Friday, April 17, 2015

Sweet Surprise Romance Collection - Review & Giveaway

Sweet Surprise Romance Collection

Nine Contemporary Romances by authors:
Wanda E. Brunstetter, Kristin Billerbeck, Kristy Dykes, Aisha Ford, Birdie L Etchison, Pamela Griffin, Joyce Livingston, Tamela Hancock Murray, Gail Sattler
Review by Deb Czajkowski
Sweet is the operative word on more than one level.  First, this book is a collection of nine separate stories, all romances, and all (spoiler alert!) very sweet and predictable, with no surprise twists in the plotlines.  The second sweet aspect (and perhaps the surprise aspect?) comes in the form of a baked treat in each story.  In some of the stories, the delicious dessert is a strong−but still secondary to the romance−focus of the storyline.  In others, it’s just a sweet addition that adds a bit of interest and delightfully connects these nine stand-alone romances.  A bonus is that at the end of each short story is a recipe that was prominent in that narrative.  Sweet!

Kayli, in Sweet as Apple Pie by Kristin Billerbeck, is a European trained chef who has opened her own neighborhood bakery in California.  Adam is a contractor from a small town in Montana who is hired to build a major restaurant/bakery cafĂ© just down the street from Kayli.  How does author Kristin Billerbeck bring two such unlikely people together?  With−you guessed it! −apple pie.

While cupcakes are Cynthia’s specialty in Cupcakes for Two by Birdie L.Etchison, she loves baking just about anything. So starting her own online baking school proves to be a great way to share her gift for culinary concoctions as well as to distract her from Gabe, the handsome but headstrong owner of the B&B she now manages.  Will Cynthia’s sweet nature or his sweet tooth be his undoing?

Lorna is a young widow returning to college.  She is intent upon finishing her degree; and also intent upon not finding a new romance. It’s here she meets Evan, a fellow student and a culinary novice, who falls for her on Day 1.  How will author Wanda E. Brunstetter use blueberries in her story, Blueberry Surprise, to heat things up for Evan and Lorna?

In Pamela Griffin’s Bittersweet Memories & Peppermint Dreams, Erica proves that to try, try, and try again does not always get you to success, especially if you have absolutely no knack in the kitchen department.  Despite her domestic disasters, will Erica try and try again for sweet success in the romance department?

Dairy Baked is looking for a new photographer for their ad campaign.  Gwendolyn is known for her creativity behind the camera, but applying her creativity to her culinary concoctions proves calamitous.  In Cream of the Crop by author Tamela Hancock Murray, will Gwendolyn’s dairy disasters lose her this big account?  Will they lose her the respect of—and perhaps something more−from the boss’s son?

Apple Annie is Apple Valley Farm’s third generation owner’s nickname, and for good reason.  Not only is her Awesome Caramel Apple Pie known far and wide, but the restaurant is chock full of everything apple, thanks to Annie’s degree in marketing and her devotion to the property’s success. Then the unthinkable happens.  How will Joyce Livingston, author of Apple Annie, turn heartache into happily-ever-after for Annie?

When Angel inherits an old building, she sees her dream of opening her own restaurant finally coming true.  Getting it ready and making it a success are all Angel can think about, all she can focus on, all she wants to focus on.  Cyril, on the other hand, is a business owner in the neighborhood who believes faith, family, and friends should rank highest in the success category.  Author Kristy Dykes strives to show us in Angel Food that your home truly is where your heart is.  Where will Angel’s heart end up?

Monica and Gil were teen sweethearts, long ago separated by a family feud that also divided the two restaurants the families had jointly owned.  Now, Monica’s family does “Just Desserts”, while Gil’s family runs the restaurant.  A client wants Monica’s famous desserts for her wedding, but she also wants Monica to cater the main meal, something Monica cannot do.  Enter Gil.  Can Gil and Monica work together to fulfil this contract? Will the two families stand in the way of either a business collaboration or a personal one?  Read Aisha Ford’s Just Desserts to find out!

Apple Pie in Your Eye by Gail Sattler brings us Lynette, the pastor’s daughter, and Rick, a faith filled member of the congregation.  Rick has loved Lynette for years, but Lynette won’t date a congregational member.  When the church roof needs to be replaced, a serious fund-raiser is required, and Rick and Lynette join forces to bring in the dough.  (Yes, like pie crust dough.)  J   Will their combined efforts cash in enough to pay for the roof?  Can Lynette get past her fears to see her future?

These nine fictional concoctions unfold into lovely literary dramas, filled with faith and joy and love.  If you enjoy light-hearted romance with the added sweetness of culinary delights, you will find these stories and recipes heavenly.  Whether you are a romantic at heart, looking for uplifting reads, or you just love to try new recipes, you will find it in Sweet Surprise Romance Collection.  Happy reading; happy baking!

Purchase the book at:

BarbourBooks is giving 3 lucky winners a print copy of
The Sweet Surprise Romance Collection!
Open Internationally!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The One That Got Away - Review & Giveaway

Review by KT Sullivan
Sarina Mahler had a one night stand with Eamon Roy, her friend Danny’s friend. He still haunts her dreams even though she’s engaged to Noah. A former Olympic swimmer, Eamon was in a bad car accident. He’s now moving back to Austin to work on promoting the sport.

Sarina is an architect and renovates older homes. Her stepfather, John, taught her how to spot a keeper and do the work herself. Danny suggests she help Eamon find a house. She wants to, but feels unfaithful to Noah who’s busy travelling the world and planning their future. He finds her profession expendable when they have children.

Sarina tries to concentrate on her business, but loses an important contract. Noah reminds her that once they’re married, her job will be secondary. All comes to a screeching halt when John suddenly dies. Sarina attends the memorial service and hears what a wonderful friend and neighbor John was to all. She goes back to his house, thinks about her mother, and what would make her happy.

Sarina is forced to pick one of the men in her life. Was falling in or out of love ever easy?

I liked Eamon and Sarina as a couple. Both have been disappointed and set low expectations for a relationship. They fall in love in spite of themselves. Everyone has searched the name of a former flame. The Internet makes all past loves come back to life. Searching for someone is easier and more painful. Many questions unanswered and wrong and right choices made.

Purchase the book at:
Amazon * Barnes&Noble

“12 Things About Bethany”

1. I have the world's smallest tattoo. My first year in design school, I accidentally stabbed my finger with a drawing pen, and the little black dot is still there.

2. My favorite song to sing at karaoke is Jamie O'Neal's "There Is No Arizona." I also love singing Heart, Journey, Pat Benetar and Foreigner. I look like a quiet girl but I can whale on a mic like it's my job.

3. I have a serious shoe addiction. Will not disclose the number of pairs I own.

4. The word "balls" unfailingly makes me laugh.

5. Tina Fey is the closest I have to an idol. 

6. Getting assigned a nickname by a friend or coworker makes me unreasonably happy.

7. I've been known to huff the leather samples at work. (This phenomenon is related to the shoe addiction.)

8. I am 100% a mountain person, not a beach person. One of the best feelings on earth is being northbound on the interstate on my way to the Catskills. 

9. I studied in England for my junior year of college, and never really got over it. I'd move back in a heartbeat if anybody ever gave me a reason.

10. Subway etiquette infractions still annoy me even though I've been living in New York for 15 years. You'd think I'd be used to it by now... but no.

11. I didn't watch much TV growing up, which has resulted in huge (and, apparently, appalling) gaps in my pop culture knowledge which my husband has taken it upon himself to rectify. 

12. I believe leopard print is a neutral.

About the Author:
After growing up in the foothills of the Northern Virginia Blue Ridge, I headed to Williams College for a degree in English. Only in the spring of my senior year did I begin to consider how exactly I might earn money with a degree in English. And this gave rise to the logical answer: interior design!

I've been working in the architecture & design industry for over eight years now, but when I'm not hanging out with mess-makers and paint-slingers, I'm writing. And when I'm not writing, I enjoy photography, karaoke, and complaining about being flat-chested.

Connect with the author at:

Enter to win a print copy of
The One That Got Away
US Only

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

12 Things About Melissa of Chick Lit Central & A Giveaway

“12 Things about Melissa A (from Chick Lit Central)”
a.k.a. The Book Fairy

Marlene invited me to visit Book Mama today, and she is over at Chick Lit Central. Her latest idea for her blog posts is "12 Things." It seems like coming up with these items is easier for her than me, so just humor me a bit! There's something in it for you, as I have some fun items to give away to a lucky US winner. (Marlene is doing an international giveaway though, so stop on by my blog and enter that giveaway if you live outside of the US.)

I'm thrilled that CLC and Book Mama are blog sisters. We're a great match and we have fun planning posts together. Marlene is a wonderful woman and I'm thankful to have her as a friend!

1. The first time I started a book group online was a V.C. Andrews fan club in 1996. I still talk with some of the people who originally joined.
2. My favorite sport is bowling and I met my husband because of it.
3. My twitter handle (@eema2emma) is because eema means mom in Hebrew and "EMMA" is my three kids' first initials and our last initial.
4. I've lived in the Chicago suburbs for most of my life and have only been in the DC area for the past five and a half years. I feel like I was meant to live here though.
5. I have a personal blog where I like to talk about fun memories, pop culture, religious stuff, etc. I have a blog post for just about any topic that someone brings up.
6. When I'm not taking care of my kids, blogging, or reading, I work at a non-profit. I've been there for over five years and love it.
7. I love Broadway musicals. I usually find myself singing songs from those the most.
8. I could spend hours in my favorite thrift store if someone let me. I have found some cool "treasures" that way. (Mostly CDs and DVDs I really wanted, but still....)
9. My first job, aside from babysitting, was working the takeout section of my favorite Chinese restaurant.
10. Unlike Marlene, I am not a coffee drinker at all. I love tea and hot cocoa though! And I do have some favorite mugs too.
11. The first book I ever received for review at CLC was The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen.
12. At my office, I'm most famous for having a huge basket of chocolate by my desk. No one can resist! 

Connect with Melissa at:
*Chick Lit Central:

*Merrylandgirl (my personal blog):

*My personal Twitter account

Also, be sure to head over to Chick Lit Central and check out my “12 Things About Marlene” interview.  I also have a fun prize pack full of some of my favorite things.  Be sure to enter!  xoxo

Here's what I'm giving away:
Some of my favorite snacks, along with my favorite tea
Two Sarah Pekkanen novels since she was the first author to take a chance on Chick Lit Central.
One of my favorite movies (have some tissues handy!!!)
One of my favorite products that will make your life easier.
A few other fun things.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and The Furry - Review & Giveaway

Review by KT Sullivan
This is a book about cats. Lots of cats. The author is adamant about the benefits of owning multiple cats at once. “Churchill and Roosevelt loved cats. Hitler and Napoleon hated them.” His one cat in particular, The Bear, is the subject of a few chapters and there are pictures of him. The Bear is wise and intellectual. The author reads the cat’s mind and asks, “Can you tell me why I am a cat, please?” His cat, Ralph, is so named because his meow sounds like the word Ralph.

The Ten Catmandments are listed to help the owner understand his role as servant to his cat. He includes a pie chart to illustrate sleep deprivation and multiple cat ownership. He also runs through the cost of owning a pet. It’s an obligation to keep them healthy.

He has a brief recap of cats in movies. One I remember is Gay Purr-ee. It’s an animated film with the voices of Judy Garland and Robert Goulet. He sees his cats as family and discusses his problems with them. He also is the victim of kitty fever. When he sees a kitten, he wants more cats.

Pet lovers will be able to relate to this story. The author reminisces about childhood pets, recounts the devastation of losing a pet, and goes through a breakup and the division of pets. It’s funny when he brings his parents into the story. When his father speaks, it’s in all capital letters. A good ode to cat ownership.

Purchase the book at:

About the Author:
Tom Cox is a British humor writer, best known for writing books about animals (in particular, cats) and golf.

Cox’s first book, Nice Jumper, detailed his adolescence at a golf club in Nottinghamshire, and was described by the novelist William Boyd as “Golf’s answer to Fever Pitch… Funny, clever, and all too horribly true.”  Its sequel, Bring Me The Head Of Sergio Garcia, was an account of his year as Britain’s most inappropriate professional golfer in 2006. Under The Paw, Cox’s bestselling book to date, is a memoir about his life as a cat lover. His next book, Talk To The Tail, published in January 2011, was a comic memoir detailing further encounters with cats and other animals. In 2013, Cox published The Good, the Bad, and the Furry: Life with the World's Most Melancholy Cat. Other writers to praise Cox’s writing besides Boyd include Kate Atkinson, David Sedaris and Julie Burchill.

Cox is also the author of two music books, Educating Peter and The Lost Tribes Of Pop, and in 1999 and 2000 was the Guardian’s Chief Pop Critic. He lives in Devon and currently writes columns on TV and golf for the Mail On Sunday and Financial Times respectively.

Connect with the author at:

1 lucky winner a print copy of
The Good, The Bad, and the Furry by Tom Cox
US Only

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Running Fire - Guest Post & Giveaway

He was a haven in the midst of Hell… 

Temporarily assigned to the Shadow Squadron in a troubled region of Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer and pilot Leah Mackenzie is no stranger to conflict—even if most of her physical and emotional scars are courtesy of her vicious ex. Still, she's got a bad feeling about picking up a team of stranded SEALs. A feeling that's all too justified once enemy fire hits their helicopter and all hell breaks loose… 

SEAL Kell Ballard's goal was to get the injured pilot out of harm's way and find shelter deep in the labyrinth of caves. It's a place of dark intimacy, where Leah finds unexpected safety in a man's arms. Where prohibited attraction burns brightly. And where they'll hide until the time comes to face the enemy outside…and the enemy within their ranks.

Purchase the book at:

Guest Post: Author’s inspiration for the plot of RUNNING FIRE:

            My inspiration for this plot comes out of a sad fact that many people come out of a dysfunctional family or a family where there was mental, emotional or physical abuse.  I always write books that I’ve either had direct experience with myself, or someone I know well, has experienced it and I’ve seen the devastation and wounding that comes from it.  Spousal abuse is rampant in the world. Statistics in the USA tell us that one out of every four women experience spousal abuse. One in three female homicide victims are murdered by their current or former partner every year. There are many ways to survive it.  Running Fire shows one of those ways.  It also shows that love can mean the difference in healing from this scarring experience or not.

            Army Chief Warrant Officer Leah Mackenzie leads a double life.  And women who have gone through spousal abuse, usually do.  At work, they seem normal and can handle their job without a problem.  But going home?  They revert into an abuse victim.  Leah didn’t start out to become one, but several tragic events concerning her family when she was just a child, stamped and molded her differently.  And because her famous Army helicopter father ran a black ops squadron, he was married to it and not his family.  When tragedy strikes, Leah is left alone with her grief, pain and her father isn’t there for her.  She grows up in his powerful and authoritarian shadow.  

            The only way Leah can get her father to love her is to join the black ops squadron and excel at what she does so well: skillful flying in combat.  That way she gets some of his attention.   She has poor social skills as a teenage girl growing up without a mother and an absentee father.  In the Mackenzie family, she was a quiet shadow to her older brother, Evan, whom her father doted upon.  He had great dreams for his son and none for his shy, unsure daughter who only wanted his love.  And she never received it.  When Leah, who is eight years old, tries to save her brother in a winter time accident and fails, she blames herself.  And from this loss, her entire family tears apart forever.  
Such family dynamics, of coming out of an abusive/dysfunctional family, can set up a woman to attract a man who becomes her spousal abuser.  So many women caught with a brutal, physical, mental and emotional abuser get beaten down and they give up.  But Leah somehow found the courage to not give up.  As she grew, matured and became an adult, she divorced her abuser.  But in my story, the real problems just begin because her ex-husband is the commander of the squadron she flies for in Afghanistan.

            On a stormy and dangerous night, Leah and her copilot fly her MH-47 helicopter into the maw of Taliban territory to pick up two SEALs who have completed a mission.  Only, things go terribly wrong.  A crash occurs that could have ended her life, but she is saved by a third SEAL, a sniper named Kell Ballard, who was on an entirely different mission in the same area.  That rescue changes Leah’s life.  Kell wasn’t expecting to meet a woman in this war torn country.  And he sure as hell didn’t expect to fall in love with her raw courage of not only surviving her past, but changing the course of her life with his support.  That one decision sets another series of events tumbling down upon Leah and she’s not sure she can survive it.   
I hope you enjoy the many layers, twists and turns of this story!  Please run over to my website and sign up for my quarterly newsletter (free).  It contains exclusive information, giveaways, and surprises that only my subscribers will receive!  I love to hear from my readers, so make yourself know to me at

Connect with the author at:

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Taking Fire by Lindsay McKenna
US/Canada Only

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Fools Rush In - An April Fools Day Anthology

Suzie Jay – Operation: Tom Foolery

Maddison Leary can’t stand her job. She wishes she could quit but can’t afford it. Things start to look up when her usually mean spirited boss Angela asks for her help to organize an April Fools’ Day prank to play on her brother Tom. Maddison is relieved to see Angela’s fun and playful side until she realizes there is evil intentions behind this prank. Now she is involved and can’t see a way out. The last thing she wants to do is hurt the kind hearted and very handsome Tom Pritchard. Can she save herself and Tom from an April Fools’ Day disaster?

Suzie Jay is a mum of six who lives in Australia with her delicious husband and band of little misfits. She is a former school teacher who escaped to torture the world by sharing what’s inside her head. This is her first published work and it will be followed closely by her debut novel: Walk on the wild Side. The reinvention of Violet Monte which will be out in May of 2015.

S.E. Babin – Fool Me Once
When Alex snags the attention of Beckett Dean, the most popular guy in high school, she knows something is afoot.  After all, she’s nerdy, awkward and her braces can be seen from outer space. Surely Beckett’s interest isn’t romantic.
Beckett is focused on popularity and maintaining his rep as one of the coolest guys in school. When Alex becomes a target for the town’s annual April Fools’ joke, Beckett reluctantly befriends her, only to ultimately ruin the rest of her high school days. Devastated at his behavior, he tries for weeks to apologize. Alex, though, wants nothing to do with him.
Fast forward several years. Alex is successfully running her own business. She still thinks about Beckett, but in an angry stabby way.  When their paths collide once again, will Beckett’s apologies still fall on deaf ears or will she finally grant him the forgiveness he seeks?

S.E. Babin has a passion for writing books with a paranormal twist. Whether it’s romance or mystery, she loves taking the norm and turning it into the extraordinary. Her love of reading turned into a curious exploration to see whether or not she could write her own novel. Beginning with random, terrible poetry and a slightly popular reimagining of Beowulf’s Grendel in her high school English class, Sheryl spent way too much time in the library, killing any chance of her becoming a cheerleader or anything even remotely cool. 

Laurie Baxter – Who Does He Think He’s Fooling?

It’s April Fools’ Day at ACME Office Amusements and boss Jessica is encouraging a little friendly pranking. But pals Tom and Amy have other things on their minds after an uncomfortable incident the night before has left things more than a little awkward between them.

Laurie Baxter has degrees in both puppetry and screenwriting because let’s face it, majoring in English would have been no more useful and way less fun. She loves chocolate, ice cream, chocolate ice cream, dogs, New York City, old movies, modern architecture, all kinds of theater, and music from before she was born. Her eighth grade English teacher told her to become a writer, so she did.

Whitney Dineen – Fools In Love

Forty something, Corrine Breslin, is divorced and feeling fabulous for the first time in years! Enter a business trip to Chicago and an accidental run-in with former high school debate partner, Ryan Rosco. April Fool’s Day weaves a magic spell on this couple, insuring a happy ending for all.

While attending the University of Illinois in Chicago, Whitney Dineen was discovered by a local modeling agent and began an unexpected career as a plus-size Ford model. She modeled in New York City before moving to Los Angeles with her husband. During “The Hollywood Years,” Whitney was bitten by the writing bug and started creating characters that are inspired by strong women with a great sense of humor. She is the author of the best-selling romantic comedy, She Sins at Midnight. Her second book, The Reinvention of Mimi Finnegan, is due out in May, 2015.  In addition to writing romantic comedies, Whitney has also created a series of adventure books for girls. The first of which, Wilhelmina and the Willamette Wig Factory, will be released in the autumn of 2015. Whitney and her husband live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where they raise their children, chickens and organic vegetables.

Celia Kennedy – April’s Fool

When you hitch your wagon to a star, you might find yourself in an awkward situation!
Talia Rhodes, Personal Assistant to celebrity Shane Clarke, finds her vacation on hold when her boss goes missing! Getting the answers means following a trail from a police station in Mexico to a coffee shop in Melbourne, Australia! One long plane ride later, Talia comes face to face with her boss – will the joke be on her?

Celia Kennedy was born in Wurzburg, Germany on a military base. Her parent’s penchant for traveling has stuck with her, she’s lived in and traveled through several countries.
The imagined world has always fascinated Celia. She has studied Art History, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture. Her thirteen year career at UW in Seattle ended in 1996. Not wanting to be homeless, she left the academic world and worked as a Landscape Architect, married the love of her life, became a mom, been PTA President, as well as Boy and Girl Scout Leader.
The unimaginable wealth in her life is the most fascinating thing to her.
Her love of travel, the designed and natural world, friendship, self-discovery wine, chocolate, AND love are the foundation of her life and books.
Celia has published Charlotte’s Restrained, The Accidental Stalker, Kathleen’s Undressed, The Accidental Enigma, Venus Rising, Sugar It’s Cold Outside (Cupid on the Loose Anthology). She will publish Tears in the Rain on April 15 (May the Fourth Anthology).

Amy Gettinger – Don’t Prank Me Now, Prank Me Later

What happens when your mischievous fledglings get old enough to assemble a car in the house? How do you get that Play-Doh smell out of your shoes once they’ve been filled with it? And can you revive a friendship that well-deserved anger has blocked for years? These are the questions Xenia Marcks deals with in this fun and pranky April Fool’s Day story.

Amy Gettinger lives in Orange County, California with her husband and her two piteous poodles under the shade of a very old eucalyptus windrow full of crows and wild parrots. When she’s not writing novels, she’s creating Reader’s Theater plays and coaching a local senior group to perform them, complete with feather boas and tiaras.

Engy Albasel Neville – Fool’s Luck

Amy McKinsey had everything going for her except for one small thing … a serious case of bad luck.
Amy had a great job at Glitz, a lifestyle and fashion magazine in Los Angeles. With a promising career in marketing, great friends and a fabulous wardrobe, it diverted attention from her being a magnet for mishaps.
Her job was on the right track until her new boss, Sarah, a beautiful and vicious young socialite with zero work experience arrived on the scene, determined to wreak havoc on the marketing department starting with Amy’s job.
Beaten down and disheartened by Sarah’s daily verbal assaults, Amy pursued her dream job at CondĂ© Nast in NYC in hopes of a new beginning. Was it possible to leave her misfortunes behind?

Engy Albasel Neville is a working mom, a brand consultant professional with 15 years experience managing brand initiatives for fortune 500 companies, a certified yoga teacher and an aspiring amateur chef.
Her favorite hobbies include traveling, gardening, cooking and writing with the latter more of a calling than hobby. She’s also a self proclaimed bookworm.
Engy lives with her husband, two active toddlers and super hyper dog on Long Island, New York.

Connie Stephany – Fooled Around and Fell In Love

Tom Parker had been prey to his mom’s April Fool’s pranks for as long as he could remember.  Getting back at her was long overdue and this was the year he’d make it happen.  With a little coaxing, he was able to convince his best friend, Colleen Toogood, to help him pull it off. All it would take was a fake engagement and his great-grandmother’s wedding ring.  What could possibly go wrong?

Connie Stephany is a self-published author, whose first book, Second Chances, was published in December of 2014. 
She has been reading romance novels her entire life, and decided to try her hand at writing one!  Although it took several years between writing her first book and publishing, her second book will be (hopefully) much faster to market and is plotting it out now.
Connie lives in Zimmerman, Minnesota with her husband of 15 years, 3 children who are 14, 13 and 8 and a dog named Millie.
Connie’s dream is to become a famous author one day, where she can write books people cannot wait to read.