Blast + Giveaway: Extracted

Extracted
Sherry D. Ficklin & Tyler Jolley
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 15th 2016
Genres: Steampunk, Young Adult

Two opposing factions of time travelers vie for control of the future in this thrilling steampunk series opener dubbed “Interesting” and “Unexpected” by Kirkus Reviews.

Lex and Ember—two time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time war—are torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.

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EXCERPT:

My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. I can feel the warmth of Ethan’s body radiating like a tuning fork against my back. In front of me, there is only darkness. I strain, listening, waiting for the next wave of attack. The leather straps holding up my suede harness dig into the skin of my shoulders, but the ache only sharpens my focus. The urge to turn around is strong, though I know better. Months of training have taught me exactly what happens when I turn my back to the darkness. So I listen, honing my senses until I catch the sound of Ethan taking a small step forward, away from me. My eyes are useless, so I close them. Knowing my attackers are well paid for their ability to move in silence, there is little hope that they will give themselves away. We need another strategy. As if reading my mind, Ethan picks up the conversation we were having earlier.

“All I’m saying is, maybe you need the extra practice,” Ethan says, his tone mocking. Even without being able to see him, I can sense him moving, beginning to circle counterclockwise. I know he’s trying to draw them out, to bring the fight to him. It seems like a sound strategy, so I jump on board.

“Oh, yes, because it isn’t like she turned around and kicked the crap out of you, too.” I’m mimicking his movements now. My voice is flat, free from emotion, and my words are empty. I can’t see him moving, but I can feel him, as if we’re connected by a million invisible threads.

“How am I supposed to just punch a girl?” Ethan asks. “And I was tired from taking the guy out like five seconds earlier.”

“She isn’t a girl. She’s more like a pissed-off kangaroo in a top hat. She has a nasty right hook, I’ll give you that.”

I hear the sharp whip of air as a bamboo pole cuts through the darkness, headed toward my face. Even with our phony argument going on, I’m able to hear it coming before it lands. I bring up my hands and block the blow with my forearms. The impact stings, bruising the bones there, but better my arms than my face. With a movement perfected after one too many blows to the head, I grab the pole and pull it aside, dragging my attacker with it. As he closes in, I drop the pole and lock arms with Ethan. I flip over his back and kick out, knocking my attacker to the mat. As he struggles back to his feet, Ethan spins into my place, delivering a secondary kick that sends the man flying into the wall with a dull thud. “Yeah, but she’s scrappy,” he says.

“Scrappy? Is that boy code for you couldn’t stop staring at her rack?”

Behind me, I feel Ethan duck a blow, and then land one of his own before pressing his back against mine. “I… that’s not… I didn’t even… I mean…” he sputters.

I smirk. Busted.

Footsteps approach, but we keep sparring. I bend over, using my attacker’s own momentum against him as I put my shoulder into his gut and stand, propelling him over my head and onto his back on the mat. I don’t need to see my victory to realize what the maneuver has cost me. A muscle in my lower back seizes, and it’s all I can do not to drop to my knees in agony. I clench my fists until I feel my fingernails cut bloody crescents in my palms. There is no way I’m going to be the weak link—no way I’m going to let Ethan fight alone. Back to back, that’s how Rifters are trained to fight. And Ethan always has my back.

“Don’t feel too bad. She was pretty scrappy after all.”

Ethan mumbles, “It’s a girl thing.”

“Hold up, what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, stiffly regaining my footing as my back screams in protest.

As usual, Ethan turns to check on me. “Nothing personal, Ember.”

Not wanting him to get slammed for it again, I grab him by the shoulder and pull, revolving us to our starting positions just as the first attacker flips back onto his feet and lunges. He would have taken me in the stomach, but I bring up my knee just in time to block his advance before kicking him in the face. There is a loud crunch that sounds like breaking bone. I hear him hit the mat with a groan. The lights flick back on, and Mistress Catherine blows her whistle.

Normally we spar with off-duty guards, since most of them have military training of some kind. They know how to take a hit and how to deliver one without doing too much damage. We might be lowly recruits, but Rifters are rare, and our lives are precious.

But as the man whose nose I have just broken pulls off his black ski mask, my heart falls into my shoes. Flynn is staring up at me, and his face is covered in blood.

“Nice hit, Ember,” he says as blood drips from his nose and onto his white shirt. Mistress Catherine hands him his horn-rimmed glasses and shoots me an amused smirk. Behind me, Ethan snickers.

Great. And here I was thinking this day couldn’t get any worse.

Reaching down, I offer Flynn a hand up, which he accepts with a smile.

“I’m so sorry,” I mutter, but he waves it off.

“Catherine told me you were really coming along. I wanted to see for myself.”

The others are shuffling out, so I turn to grab a towel and follow them, but Mistress Catherine closes the door behind a worried-looking Ethan, presses her back against it, and narrows her eyes at me. I used to think it was hard to look menacing in a knee-length pencil skirt and beige brocade top, but she radiates power. It might be the stern pucker of her thin lips, or the way her graying hair is knotted tightly at the nape of her neck. She resembles a librarian except for the long, jagged scar that runs from her left temple to the cleft in her chin. Well, that and the spider-shaped, iron shoulder harness permanently affixed to her upper arm.

Not sure what’s going on, I freeze, yellow towel in hand. Before I can say anything, I feel something moving behind me. I manage to move to the side just as a wooden staff comes slamming down against the spot where I’d stood a heartbeat earlier. I turn and see Flynn grinning, blood still dripping off his chin. He spits before whirling the staff like a windmill in front of him. “What I don’t understand,” he says, circling to my left, “is how that Hollow got the best of you. According to Ethan’s report, Kara had no problem with her. And Catherine here tells me that you mat Kara at almost every practice now.”

I have no idea what to say. Does he think I let her beat up on me? Just then, my legs are swept out from under me. I fall to the mat, but, rolling swiftly backward, I bounce up onto my feet. Catherine has a staff, too, and comes toward me from the right. I hold up my hands and back up slowly. In the corner of the room, a vent erupts in a cloud of steam, and Tesla’s image appears but says nothing.

“Look, I didn’t let her get away,” I say. “If that’s what you’re implying. She was strong. And fast.”

Catherine shakes her head. “You are strong. And fast. And clever.”

“I’m sorry!” I blurt out when my back hits the corner and they are still coming at me.

I don’t think Flynn would ever hurt me, not really, but Catherine, well…

Without another word, they both attack. I manage to duck one blow but take another in the ribs before I decide to make a break for it. Jumping as high as possible, I’m able to get a hand on the chain attaching one of the punching bags to the ceiling and hoist myself up. I leap over Flynn and roll as I hit the ground behind him. They’re quick, though, and have me surrounded again in seconds.

It’s easy to forget that they are trained Rifters, too. Catherine doesn’t rift anymore, but Flynn is still active and in really good shape. They aren’t holding anything back either. Flynn lands a blow to my lower back, but when Catherine moves in, I’m able to grab her staff and force it from her bad arm. Suddenly, time is moving in a blur. I’m not thinking about my next move anymore. My body is reacting of its own accord. I’m not sure how it happens, but I blink and Catherine is on her knees. Flynn is standing in front of me, and I have the two staffs crossed at his neck. He’s holding up his hands and saying my name.

I drop the sticks and step back. The muscles in my arms and legs are twitching like I’ve just run ten miles.

“That’s what we mean,” Catherine says, climbing stiffly to her feet. “You could have taken the Hollow girl. So, why did you hesitate?”

I close my eyes, calling the fight to the front of my memory. There was something about the girl. She was beautiful, for sure, but that wasn’t it. There was something else, too. Something I can’t put into words. I look up to find they’re staring at me, waiting for some kind of answer. I can feel Tesla glaring holes into my back, watching me like one of his little science experiments. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Flynn sighs and holds his hands out to me. I take them without hesitation. “Ember, I know it’s hard. I know you don’t like hurting people. It’s against your very nature to harm someone or let someone suffer. But you are too important to risk losing. Understand? Sometimes, you have to put someone down, let someone get hurt or even die, to save yourself and your team. You can’t hold anything back.”

I take a deep breath. “And what if someone dies because of me? Because, for some reason, my life is worth more than theirs?”

Flynn lowers his head, looking me in the eye. “That is a burden you will have to learn to carry.”

 

Author Bio:

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.

Author links:
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever). He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.

Author links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Fear Me, Fear Me Not

Fear Me, Fear Me Not
Elodie Nowodazkij
Publication date: September 27th 2016
Genres: Romance, Suspense, Young Adult

SCREAM meets FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS in this new young adult romantic suspense novel by Elodie Nowodazkij.

Fear is power. They fear me. They don’t fear me enough. Every year a girl disappears in Gavert County, Texas. Their bodies are found days, sometimes months, later with an angel wing carved on their face. They call me “the Angel Killer” and I’m on the hunt again. But this time, it’s personal.

Seventeen-year-old cheerleader Erin Hortz has been warned about the Angel Killer all her life. She never walks alone in the dark. She doesn’t talk to strangers. She doesn’t accept drinks at parties. All she wants is to finish her senior year with a win at the Miss Junior Queen of Hearts pageant, capture the perfect light over the lake with her new camera, and finally catch the attention of her best friend Nadia’s brother—former football star Dimitri Kuklev. Since his injury, they’ve been spending a lot of time together. And getting to know the real Dimitri—not the one she put on a pedestal in her diary is better than she could ever have imagined. And she’s falling hard.

Nineteen-year-old Dimitri’s injury brought him from football superstar with universities from all around the country knocking at his door to not knowing what he wants to do with his life. Taking classes at the local community college is supposed to get him back on track, but all he wants is to be on the field again. The only person who seems to understand him is the one he swore to keep in the friend zone: Erin. His sister Nadia’s best friend and the reason why he can’t keep a girlfriend. Between their early morning jogs, their time spent at the lake laughing, and their late night conversations, he’s having a hard time remembering why it’s such a bad idea.

But when Nadia doesn’t come home after a party, Dimitri and Erin know they must find her before it’s too late—even if that means risking their own lives and everything Erin’s ever known.

Because the main suspect is Erin’s father.

Goodreads / Amazon

teaser (2)

 

Author Bio:

Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. Now she lives in Maryland with her husband, their dog and their cat.

She’s also a serial smiley user.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Tumblr / Instagram

 

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Blast + Giveaway: Beneath the Void

Beneath the Void
Elisa Dane
(Fighting Chance #2)
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: August 9th 2016
Genres: Romance, Young Adult

Sadie Reynolds is drowning.

Months have passed since Ian Daniels and Newton Daily opened fire at Atwood High school, killing dozens of students before turning the guns on themselves.

Determined to pay tribute to her fallen classmates and teachers, Sadie’s thrown herself into the memorial project at the newly rebuilt school. But it’s not enough. Horrific dreams of the shooting intertwined with memories of the night her mother was murdered keep her up at night and haunt her during the day.

The constant stream of hate raining down on her from faceless social media trolls only make matters worse. Her boyfriend, Hayden brings the only source of relief when he sneaks in to sleep next to her on nights her dad is at work.

Desperate for normalcy, Sadie fills every waking moment of her day with anything to take her mind off her pain. If she’s exhausted, she’ll be too tired to acknowledge the new threat gunning for her.

BENEATH the VOID is book 2 in Elisa Dane’s Fighting Chance series, a hard-hitting and unapologetically raw look at teen violence in schools and the aftermath of learning to pick up the pieces and heal.

Goodreads / Amazon

Sequel to:
28471919

EXCERPT:

“It’s a damn shame what happened to that girl. A damn shame what happened to all of you.”

I bit down on the inside of my lip and lifted my tray off the counter. If I didn’t get away from Moe before he started in, things would get awkward fast. “Heading out,” I called over my shoulder as I rounded the counter. The last thing I wanted to do was talk about the shooting. I’d lived, breathed, ate, and drank nothing but the shooting for months on end. I had funeral music burned into my brain and had cried myself into a stupor more times than I could count. I was done crying. It didn’t help. It didn’t change what had happened, and it didn’t make anything better. Moving forward and staying busy were the only things that made life bearable. Well, that and spending quality time with Hayden. The memorial project I was heading up at Atwood High was the only shooting related activity I involved myself in anymore. It was positive. It had meaning. It was my way of paying respect to poor Tara Chung.

And everyone else.

A loud boom sounded in the not too far distance.

My body reacted on instinct. My heart leaped inside my chest. The tray full of drinks I’d been carrying crashed against the black and white checkered tile. My knees buckled, and with a frightened scream, I dropped like a stone to the floor and covered my head with my arms. Not again. Not again. This can’t be happening again.

The people in the booths next to me weren’t moving. Were they insane? There was a shooter in the building! I rose up onto my knees and lurched sideways, grabbing onto the jean-clad knee of the older man sitting at the edge of the booth. “Get down! Quick!”

The man gaped at me like I was insane.

A hand clamped down onto my shoulder, and I shot up off the floor with a shriek.

“Sadie!” Moe’s voice sounded above the pounding of my heart, and I zeroed in on his calm face as I struggled to catch my breath.

He stepped forward and placed his hands on my shoulders. “Honey, it’s okay. Everyone in the diner is fine. A car backfired out in the lot. That’s what you heard.”

My mouth felt dry and pasty and the room swayed beneath my feet. I opened my mouth to speak and glanced over my shoulder toward the front window when words failed me. I glanced back at Moe. “A-a car?”

Moe’s expression was gentle, but filled with pity and my stomach immediately soured. “Everyone’s fine, sweetheart,” he said with a nod. He motioned toward the back of the diner. “Why don’t you take your break now and … ”

He continued to watch me with concern as his words trailed off and I nodded, more than happy to get the hell away from everyone and everything. I knew what he couldn’t bring himself to say: Take your break, girl, and hide your crazy away before you drive away my business.

Too embarrassed to look back, I left my fallen tray and drinks where they lay shattered and spilled on the floor and sprinted out the back door of the diner.

 

Author Bio:

ELISA DANE is a self-proclaimed book junkie. A lover of handbags, chocolate, and reality television, she’s a proud mother to three All- Star cheerleaders. Writing is her absolute passion, and it’s her mission to create stories that will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but help you find a new respect and interest in the sport of All-Star cheerleading.

Elisa is no stranger to the publishing world. She writes steamy paranormal romance under her real name, Lisa Sanchez. Her adult works include the Hanford Park series (Eve Of Samhain, Pleasures Untold, and Faythe Reclaimed), Obsessed (an erotic suspense), and a paranormal novella, Cursing Athena. Elisa lives in Northern California with her husband, three daughters, and a feisty Chihuahua who stubbornly believes she’s human.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Review: Wonder

23302416Title: Wonder
Author: R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Corgi Childrens
Release Date: January 2013
Length: 315 pages
Series?: Wonder #1
Genre: Contemporary YA, MG

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

My name is August. I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.

August Pullman wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things. He eats ice cream. He plays on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside.

But Auggie is far from ordinary. Ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids don’t get stared at wherever they go.

Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life, in an attempt to protect him from the cruelty of the outside world. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?

Narrated by Auggie and the people around him whose lives he touches forever, Wonder is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

REVIEW

The Skinny

Auggie Pullman is not your typical ten year old. He was born with facial deformities that have changed the course of his life. After many, many surgeries and necessary recovery time, Auggie is not like everyone else. He knows exactly how he looks, and he is very aware of how other people see him, which is why he has been home-schooled up until the fifth grade.

Now that his surgeries are finished, his parents believe he should attend school because one day he will be out in the world. Auggie is a wreck, but he has an out: he can quit at any time if it becomes too much. They select a local and prestigious private school and arrange for Auggie to go on a tour with hand-selected students to help acclimate him.

The rest of the story follows Auggie as he journeys through his first year at middle school. Along the way he meets some incredible friends who each have their own struggles, as well as unfortunate encounters with some truly horrendous adults. Auggie accepts it all and trudges on, gaining confidence as the year goes on.

The Players

Auggie – a 10 year old boy born with craniofacial abnormalities who is going to public school for the first time

Via – Auggie’s older overprotective sister who is starting her first year of high school

Mom – Auggie and Via’s overbearing, mother hen

Dad – Auggie and Via’s jokester dad who calls Auggie “Auggie Doggie”

Daisy – Auggie’s sweet dog

Miranda – Via’s best friend, she shares a few quirks with Auggie

Julian – a boy at Auggie’s new school who is two-faced

Jack Will – a boy at Auggie’s new school who befriends him

Summer – a girl at Auggie’s new school who befriends him

Justin – Via’s boy friend

The Quote

 When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind. 

The Highs and Lows

  • The Reality. The thing that makes this book so relatable is the realness. Auggie is a kid who suffers the shocked looks, the dirty looks, the whispers, the mean comments. He understands people’s strange fascination with him, so he tries to hide it, always with his head down, hiding behind his bangs, only seeing the world through sidled eyes.
  • The Writing. Overall, the chapters were fairly short. Palacio crafts such simple sentences with beautiful sentiment that penetrates the heart. The short chapters amplify the meaning behind each character’s perspective.
  • The POVs. The amazing thing about this book is that Auggie is just one person, but he is loved by many. The book is broken into parts, and the parts further broken down into alternating character POVs, which makes this a character-driven story. The plot progresses because of the characters. There are six total: Auggie, Via, Jack Will, Summer, Justin, and Miranda. Each of these characters present their own individual struggles, but they are all tied to Auggie. Ultimately, they each tell the story of how Auggie has changed them, made them better people.
    • Via – She is struggling starting her first year of high school without her best friends, who have abandoned her. She does not want to be known as the girl with the deformed brother, so she tries to separate her school life from her home life. This is her opportunity to make a new start where people don’t associate her with Auggie…becuase to them, he doesn’t exist.
    • Jack Will – Jack is one of the first students Auggie ever meets, put together by his principal (Mr. Tushman). He is supposed to be nice to Auggie, but comes to find he actually likes Auggie, and befriends him. Jack gets swept up in the monster that is middle school and Auggie feels betrayed. For a long time they don’t speak to one another, and Jack Will feels lower than dirt about it.
    • Justin – He is Via’s boy friend, who then becomes her boyfriend. They enjoy being in the theater club. Justin eventually gets to meet Via’s family, and he would much rather be with them than his own. He has a lot of issues going on at home and gravitates to the radiance that Auggie’s family gives off.
    • Miranda – While she and Via were as thick as thieves, and she and Auggie had a special relationship, Miranda couldn’t be farther from that. She is spiraling down a black hole she can’t climb out of following her parents divorce. The summer preceding high school is where it starts – the lying. Miranda lies to her campmates and uses Auggie’s physicality as a freak show draw. Once you start lying, it’s hard to stop. She does something redeeming at the end of the book.
  • The Heart. This book isn’t one of those tear-jerkers that makes you ugly cry. It does explore the depth of the characters and their relationship with Auggie and what happens because of it.  This is a difficult issue that Palacio approaches with gusto and grace.
  • The Deal. Auggie’s mother is the one who broaches the subject of Auggie going to school, and Auggie hates the idea, as does his dad. He goes on a tour of Beecher Prep and meets Julian, Charlotte, and Jack Will. After some incidents like the “Cheese Touch” game, Auggie wants to quit. That was always on the table – he could quit at any time. Surprisingly, his parents have switched sides on the matter, and his father pushes him to remain at school while his mother falls all over him with her mothering. Auggie is in it for the long haul.
  • Auggie. He is such an incredible character. He is so insightful and profound for a 10 year old. While he is incredibly smart, there are many people who doubt that – because all they see is his face. While Auggie hides behind his hair, it is not a complete barrier between him and the world. He notices things around him, especially about people.
  • Auggie’s Friendships. Jack Will was put up to befriending Auggie, but he realizes what Auggie really offers as a friend, and it becomes real. They are like PB&J. Summer is the first person at Beecher Prep who willingly approaches Auggie. Their friendship starts over something silly – the fact that they both have summer names.
  • The Bully. Julian is one of those kids who has mastered the art of deception. He is sugar and sweet and the most absolutely amazing young boy to the faces of adults, but the moment there are none around he is the nasty slithering snake in the grass. Julian’s parents have some prominence, with his mother being on the school board, and she tries to use her power to influence some decisions regarding Auggie. Julian himself tries to get the entire fifth grade to ostracize Auggie, but things don’t always go according to plan.
  • The Universal Truth. This is a book that everyone should read in their lifetime. I think it should be mandatory for 5th grade students, because they will be facing what Auggie and Via face as they proceed to middle school. The things that each of the characters shared during their chapters were so intimate. Palacio shares such a powerful message with this story:  choose kindness, always. There are so many wonderful lessons about life that Auggie and his friends show readers.

The Take-Away

I was laughing at many points, tearing up at others, boiling with anger at the injustice, and completely crying in certain spots. From beginning to end, I enjoyed everything about this book. I loved the side-characters who come to Auggie’s aid during the camp retreat. It shows that there is redemption in humanity.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

BUY IT. Buy it for yourself, your children, your siblings, your grandchildren, nieces/nephews, your neighbor. It is such an incredible story that everyone needs to hear.

 

About the Author

RJ PalacioR.J. Palacio lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it.

Raquel J. Palacio / R. J. Palacio is a pseudonym of: Raquel Jaramillo.

Find the author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Sunday Post ~ Bye Bye Bunny

0abf9b9e-b7ac-4d59-b451-7eb7c64ea1b9_zps47hi5hueThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday funday, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.


Remember, there are free audiobooks all summer long! Sign up for the text alerts to remember to grab them each week!

This week was my first week out of school. I’m still not used to it. I spent the majority of the week doing two things: playing my games on my phone (which is only a recent occurrence) and working on some blog posts. I’ve never been one to keep with a game on my phone. After a while I stop playing and then eventually delete it, so this is an interesting development. I didn’t get hardly any reading done. Whoops!

This week Baby actually caught a bunny. It was one of the bigger ones that hang around the house. She cornered it between the old doghouse and the fence. I think it was trying to find the hole to get out of the yard and just didn’t find it fast enough. I’ve seen them run right past their holes to run to one of the corners of the yard to exit. The man has joked that Baby wouldn’t know what to do with one if she ever caught it, and he was right. She grabbed it, dropped it, and then just looked at it. I was mad and sad. It only had a little nick on it’s front leg that was bleeding, but died from the internal injuries from when Baby bit down. I buried it. That night and the next day Baby was so mad at me. She didn’t want to be anywhere near me and even refused to eat her food and her treat from the man the next morning.

Then I had my best friend’s son for the day. He screamed all the way home. I turned around about halfway and he was out of his carseat straps. I exited the highway, pulled over, turned off the car and marched back there and got in his face. He’s old enough to know he’s supposed to wear them, and he takes them off when he’s mad. His mother had talked with him just before we parted. I made him get his straps back on and tightened them up. After that I didn’t have any problems with him getting in his seat or putting on his straps.

We played quietly for a few hours and Baby loved playing nanny dog. She is really good with him. Then we went to the bookstore. He was very good, and wanted to push the little buggy. He didn’t touch the millions of toys they had (why does the bookstore have a toys section?!) and when he’d get a book to look at, he’d put it back on the shelf. Then we went for lunch. He stayed on his side of the booth and ate and talked and watched all the people coming and going. If he spilled his juice, he reached for a napkin and cleaned it up. Afterwards, we went to Cabela’s and walked around looking at all of the animal exhibits. Whenever we’d pass the really big moose or any of the bears, The Turkey would yank on my hand to pick him up because he was scared.

 ~ Last Week  on G1000W ~

~ This Week on G1000W ~

  • Monday
    • Cover Characteristic ~ Arrows
    • Review ~ It’s In His Smile
    • Summertime Challenge ~ Books to Read at the Beach
  • Tuesday
    • Top Ten Tuesday ~
    • First Chapter First Paragraph ~ It’s In His Smile
    • Summertime Challenge ~ Favorite Things About Summer
  • Wednesday
    • WWW Wednesday
    • Review ~ Four Chambers
    • Summertime Challenge ~ Capture Your Summer Mood in a Photo
  • Thursday
    • Famous Last Words #6
    • Thoughts on Thursday ~ TBD
    • Summertime Challenge ~ Summer School Reading List Books I Loved
  •  Friday
    • Feature Follow Friday ~ Websites I Love to Lurk
    • Summertime Challenge ~ Summer Movies I’m Excited About

~ New Arrivals to Land of 1000 Wonders ~

~ Around Town in the Spotlight ~

 ~ Open Giveaways ~

The Reaper Rises | Marty and the Christmas Eve Surprise

Top Ten Tuesday: Picked on a Whim

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme feature created at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists. For the list of past topics and future schedule, click here.


Picked on a Whim

These are the last ten books I picked on a whim from NetGalley. Yes, they are on my list to be read!

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Miranda Cruz isn’t just the best darned waitress in town anymore; she’s Red River’s newest innkeeper. But first, she has to find the contractor who’s disappeared with her life savings so she can start renovations. Not so easy for a woman who never depends on anyone, especially a man. And when a gorgeous old flame shows up, the fire between them is reignited and threatens to send her dreams up in smoke.

Acclaimed environmental architect Talmadge Oaks returns home to Red River on family business. He plans to get in and get out quickly because a professional catastrophe is waiting back in Washington. When an unforeseen snag keeps him in Red River longer than expected, he finds himself entangled in the renovations of his late grandmother’s Victorian inn. Handy with a hammer, he offers to help the beautiful new owner, but his motives aren’t completely selfless. Will his secret demolish everything they are building? Or can their undeniable passion keep them together?

 

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As a globe-trotting freelance photographer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Lori Finning has seen just about everything. But when she lands an assignment on the barren, snow-swept island of Newfoundland, she finds herself in harsh and unfamiliar territory.

During the long, dreary winters in the isolated fishing community of Stormy Cove, gossiping is the primary pastime. So Lori is surprised when she learns of a crime the locals have spent twenty years not talking about: the strange, unsolved murder of a teenage girl. As she delves deeper into the village’s past, she’ll discover dark family secrets, unexplained crimes, and an undeniable attraction to Noah, a taciturn local fisherman who just might hold all the answers.

 

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In the sequel to Home Truths, Louise Forster returns to the sleepy country town of Tumble Creek with the story of a cop, a teacher and a mystery that will bring them together—or tear them apart.

Art teacher and occasional life model Sofie Dove wants to know what’s up with Brock Stewart. Everything about the ex SAS soldier turned police officer seems to scream passion—and it’s all for her—but he just won’t express it. All she knows is that he has a past that still keeps him up some nights.

After a semi-trailer crashes through Sofie’s house and the driver disappears into thin air, Brock insists he’s the only one who can keep her safe—but can he, when they can’t seem to trust each other?

While Sofie works on figuring out why this man keeps giving her mixed messages, Brock is determined to find out who’s out to get her—as they both find out why falling in love is a bit like being hit by a truck.

 

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An adrenaline-packed new Treasured adventure from award-winning author Kendall Talbot.

When Rosalina discovers a devastating family secret, the world as she knows it is shattered and a madman from her past reappears.
Rosalina’s love, Archer, finds a clue to a treasure stolen during World War II—but when Rosalina is kidnapped, he must either comply with Nox’s demands that he find the treasure, or risk his life to save her. Archer, a man who knows what he wants, won’t stop until Rosalina is back in his arms.

Everyone believed Nox was dead, but somehow he survived the latest attempt on his life. Now this dead man walking is out for revenge—and there are still so many on his list.

Can true love conquer all, even a madman hell bent on revenge?

 

cover85976-mediumThe heartwarming new Tarrin’s Bay novel from bestselling author Juliet Madison is all about moving on – in unexpected ways.

Distracting herself from a string of bad luck and a disastrous love life, bubbly April Vedora throws herself into her new business —April’s Glow, a candle store in seaside Tarrin’s Bay — the enchanting scents and colourful atmosphere provide a safe haven. But outside business hours she’s clueless about her personal life.

When a mysterious loner moves in next door, she can’t help but become intrigued, and ex-soldier Zac Masterson is equally fascinated by April. But both have sworn off relationships, and while April avoids her emotions by keeping busy and sociable, Zac hides away from the world — and his past.

As the pair chip away at each other’s facades and secrets are revealed, April fears that the man she is unwillingly falling for could represent everything she’s worked so hard to avoid. Or could they be just what the other needs?

They’ve shared their secrets over the back fence, but resolving the past is going to mean opening the doors to their hearts — and letting each other in.

 

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Some games are hotter off the ice…

Sofia Phillips feels cursed. Her father cheated on her mother, her boyfriend cheated on her―she’s done with dating. A summer work-exchange program in Finland is the perfect escape. But instead of gaining experience as an athletic trainer, she’s cleaning toilets. Awesome. The trip is a disaster, and even better, she meets Kyle Bennett. In the sauna. Naked.

Sexy hockey player Kyle was the star right wing for an NHL team. But after an accident killed his wife and left him injured, Kyle has appreciated the “therapeutic” benefits of booze and puck bunnies. Now in Finland for the summer, he’s coaching in an elite hockey-training camp for teens. When Sofia’s grandmother decides to set her up with a nice Finnish man, Sofia recruits Kyle as her make-believe boyfriend. Neither expects their first kiss to sizzle. And neither expects, while stranded on an island during a storm, to have a scorching night of passion.

But as their charade, and then their attraction, develops into something deeper, the past comes back, threatening to destroy them. They must decide if their feelings for each other are strong enough to survive―or it will be game over.

 

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For Annie London, a month in a Central American rainforest means handing out mosquito nets, giving medical aid, and teaching children about the birds and the bees. With any luck, it will also land her application in the “accepted” pile at a top-tier medical school. But as soon as she steps off the plane, Annie realizes her bug spray, feeble Spanish, and medical supplies won’t help her deal with her new feelings for Felipe—her best friend’s older brother, who’s much hotter than she remembers, and who also happens to be the doctor in charge of the trip.
Gawking “volun-tourists” may keep his family’s medical clinic afloat, but Dr. Felipe Gutierrez doesn’t have to like them. Or the way they make snap judgments about his practice and the people he cares for. But when his old crush, Annie, shows up to volunteer, her killer curves and kind smile fan the embers of a flame Felipe didn’t realize he’d been carrying. A flame that makes him question all his preconceived notions.
As ideas and cultures clash, Annie and Felipe must decide how far outside their comfort zones they are willing to go—both for their work and for one another.

 

cover78546-mediumDelaney Blair loves her job at Echo Lake’s Mercy Hospital, where she’s developed a reputation for being smart, fair, and driven. When she’s assigned to cut funding, she has to temporarily relocate her office, put on borrowed scrubs, and go toe-to-toe with Dr. Joshua Mackenzie, the interim head of the pediatrics department. His killer smile and rock-star body are distractions Delaney could do without, but she’s determined to stay focused while she brings his budget into line. It’s not working.
Beloved by his colleagues and patients alike, Josh is too busy caring for sick kids to talk numbers with the sexy, stiletto-clad Delaney. Every time they talk business, tensions run high…but so does a powerful attraction neither of them can ignore. When an emergency brings Mercy to its knees, Delaney and Josh must work together to save lives. But can they also find a way into each other’s hearts?

 

cover83968-mediumWhat would you do, if you had the chance to revisit all your decisions, to fix all your mistakes?

Celebrity chef, Jessie McCormick is incredibly late. Driving his Hummer to the opening of his latest restaurant seemed like a much better idea than flying, but incomprehensible directions and a dodgy shortcut throws him instead into the driveway of a rickety old house. Hopeful of finding the house occupied – and its inhabitants capable of directing him to Brisbane – he heads inside.

Voices lead him into the attic, and there he finds no direction – and every direction. The attic is an endless line of doors and ladders, each taking Jessie down a different path of his life. In one, he is a celebrity chef, fêted by the world. In another, his mother is still alive. In a third, his beloved sister is dead.

But in all of them is a small, dusty town and a small, dusty restaurant, run by a woman named Tara. As Jessie races to find his way back to his own life, he must make the biggest decision of his life: rescue his sister or take his chance at true love.

 

cover74756-mediumIf there’s one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it’s a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. But as she heads to Rainbow’s End Resort, a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin’s wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He’s spent the past year wandering the country on a motorcycle, trying not to think about his future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God’s sense of humor.

Can this woman without a future and this man running from his past find romance in the present? Or are they too tied to the way life used to be?

 

 

Sunday Post ~ Killer Internet, Slithering Snakes, and the Send-Off

0abf9b9e-b7ac-4d59-b451-7eb7c64ea1b9_zps47hi5hueThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday funday, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.


State testing days are over! There are 12 more days of school, and then our final staff day! Whoot! The man’s dad flew out last night. During the week they…did a ride out…had all the bushes in the back yard removed…and built this rockscape thingy. One of the bushes that was removed was a rattlesnake attractant. No wonder I nearly stepped on the rattlesnake at Thanksgiving! While at the park, talking about this very subject, of course we came upon another snake. Life!

I also lost it (nicely) on my Internet service provider. I did multiple internet speed tests from various providers. The average was less than 1 Mbps for downloads. I have the “extreme” Internet package of 50 Mpbs downloading. I wasn’t even getting 1/50 of what I was paying for! This is the third or fourth week of this, and each week I come back home it has been progressively getting worse. I finally had time to call (after calling about 8 numbers that did not work) and got the issue resolved (for now). I realized I am not only behind on my blog, I’m barely keeping up week to week because I’ve just been putting this whole thing off and unable to work at home. What I have gotten done was at the man’s or at work. I hope that all changes soon!

The man’s dad left Saturday afternoon. It was raining like crazy! He told me to take care of his boy, and that he’d be back in the fall! 🙂

We encountered another snake at the park Friday night. We had just walked past something dug up and were looking at it, and Baby had walked ahead with the slack in the leash. The man screamed “SNAKE!” Baby was literally standing one footstep away from it! It was off to the side of the path and coming up all curled around the rocks to the side of the sidewalk. It’s head was up and alert, and it was bleeding about half an inch back from its eye. Turns out something dug up it’s nest of eggs, and they were all broken. We threw rocks at it and let it decide if it was going to cross or turn around. Thankfully it didn’t take very long to decide, but I was more thankful that it didn’t get Baby. I’ve tried looking for photos of what kind of snake it was, but I’m not finding anything that looks like it. It was a high sheen black with very distinctive gold diamonds.

Remember, there are free audiobooks all summer long! Get your first week’s before they’re gone!

 ~ Last Week  on G1000W ~

As you can see, I didn’t get hardly anything done this week. Even my regulars were skipped.

~ This Week on G1000W ~

  • Monday
    • Cover Characteristic ~ Silhouettes
    • Review ~ Noble Secrets
    • Review ~ Aether Spirit
    • Review + Giveaway ~ 27 Days to Midnight
  • Tuesday
    • Top Ten Tuesday ~ TBD
    • First Chapter First Paragraph ~ TBD
  • Wednesday
    • WWW Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Famous Last Words #5
    • Thoughts on Thursday ~ Literary Vacation
  •  Friday
    • Feature Follow Friday ~ TBD

~ New Arrivals to Land of 1000 Wonders ~

20160428_231025Alright, here is the signed book my friend brought back from her library conference, oh, four weeks ago. 🙂

I also won Rachel’s 2 year blogoversary international prize at Confessions of a Book Geek, and I selected The Neverland Wars! Apparently The Book Depository is showing it at double price what I am seeing it for, so we’re still working on resolving that. My back up is Kristin Hannah.

I also won Cilla’s Paved With Books giveaway and selected Matilda by Roald Dahl.

~ Around Town in the Spotlight ~

 ~ Open Giveaways ~

The Siren

Sunday Post ~ The Week of The Dad’s Arrival

0abf9b9e-b7ac-4d59-b451-7eb7c64ea1b9_zps47hi5hueThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received, and share news about what is coming up on the blog for the week ahead. To get in on the Sunday funday, see the rules here: Sunday Post Meme.


I have been mentioning at every opportunity that the man’s dad was coming to Texas. Well, y’all, it finally arrived. He flew in Wednesday and is leaving on Thursday. I was so excited, anxious and nervous to meet him. I knew he would love Baby – everyone loves Baby (except the ex-fiance’s parents – problem much?), but I was nervous about how I would be received. I don’t know what the man has told his dad about me. Anyone else ever felt this way? We took him to The Alamo and the River Walk on Saturday, and he enjoyed it. While walking back to the parking garage, we heard my name screamed across the river. My brother (the married one) was sitting at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables with his wife and stepchildren! What are the chances of that ever happening? If we had stayed seated at our restaurant just a little longer, or left earlier, we would have missed them. The man and his dad are planning a project for the yard. It should be done when I come back on Saturday!

This week I also think I finally got my groove back! For real this time. My reading/blogging/life slump, lack of motivation, and procrastination gave me a big kick in the butt last weekend when I realized I had three review tours for the week and I was only starting the first of those books! Where did all of my cushion time go? It was a wake up call. And as a blessing, there is a Mini Blog Ahead challenge happening for the first half of this month. It will save my butt! I have been maintaining a thirty-something set of scheduled posts every since participating in the full-blown version of Blog Ahead last November, and it’s my goal to get back there and scheduled out two months in advance except for my Sunday Posts and WWW Wednesday posts. You will see me commenting and visiting less and less in the coming weeks as I get prepared again.

Remember, there are free audiobooks all summer long! The first week of releases starts Thursday!

 ~ Last Week  on G1000W ~

~ This Week on G1000W ~

  • Monday
    • Cover Characteristic ~ Maps
    • Review ~ Noble Secrets
  • Tuesday
    • Top Ten Tuesday ~
    • First Chapter First Paragraph ~
  • Wednesday
    • WWW Wednesday
  • Thursday
    • Thoughts on Thursday ~ The Battle of Standalones vs. Series
  •  Friday
    • Feature Follow Friday ~  Hooking Blurbs

~ New Arrivals to Land of 1000 Wonders ~

I mentioned last week that my friend brought back a signed book for me from her library conference. Well, I’m still a little too lazy to get it posted. Next week, I promise.

I also won Rachel’s 2 year blogoversary international prize, and I selected The Neverland Wars! Apparently The Book Depository is showing it is $18 for her, and only $9.80 for me. What the heck?

~ Around Town in the Spotlight ~

 ~ Open Giveaways ~

Two Brothers, One Redhead, and a Stolen Giraffe |  Urban Boys | Debauched  |  AFTER | The Siren | Doing It Over

Review: The Untamed Earl

The-Untamed-Earl-Blog-Tour

Title: The Untamed Earl
Author: Valerie Bowman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: May 2016
Length: 304 pages
Series?: Playful Brides #5
Genre: Historical Romance 

Find the book: Goodreads |Amazon

Lady Alexandra Hobbs, the daughter of the Duke of Huntley, has intended to marry Lord Owen Monroe since she first glimpsed him from the window of her bedchamber, back when she was just a girl. But the duke has already chosen Alex’s infamously spoiled elder sister, Lavinia, for Owen. And now there’s no turning back.

Owen has spent most of his bachelor years drinking, gambling, and skirt-chasing. He won’t see another pound from his parents, however, until he’s engaged to Lavinia. Desperate, he accepts an offer from her innocent and spirited–and absolutely beautiful–sister Alex: She will
turn him into a perfectly tamed suitor, and show him how to woo the shrew. But when Alex’s true motives come to light, will their bargain lead to recriminations–or to a romance that defies everyone’s expectations?

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

London, October 1816

“You heard me, Owen, and this time I’m putting my foot down.” The stamp of a boot lent credence to that particular claim.

Owen tugged at his sleeve and did his best to keep from rolling his eyes. He’d been summoned to his father’s study for what was likely the sixth time in as many months. Only this time, Owen had the misfortunate to be completely … sober. Blast, he should have stopped at the club and been even later than he already was to his father’s favorite pastime, dressing down his son. At least it would be more palatable if he were half in the bottle.

“I understand,” Owen drawled, standing up from the leather-upholstered chair that sat in front of his father’s large mahogany desk. Owen inched toward the door. He had learned over years of such meetings that it was best to get out quickly before his father had a chance to toss more empty threats at his head.

“No. I don’t think you do understand,” the earl said, stamping his foot against the wooden floor again.

Owen pressed his lips together to keep from saying something he’d regret. Which was usually everything he said. “I understand perfectly. You’re tired of my drinking?”

“Yes!”

“My gambling?”

“Yes!”

“My fondness for light skirts?”

“Yes!”

26114597Owen picked an imaginary bit of lint from the front of his impeccably tailored blue coat. The garment had cost a small fortune, but then again, high fashion didn’t come cheap and Owen prided himself on being well dressed. Well dressed, well fed, well entertained. Well everything. He focused his gaze on his father’s red face. “There, you see? I’ve cataloged all my faults. You want me to find a wife and ‘settle down.’ I understand entirely.”

“No. You don’t understand, Owen.” His father clutched at the lapels of his own burgundy coat and tugged viciously. Owen winced. There was no need to take it out on the garment. “You don’t understand at all,” the earl continued. “How many times have we had this discussion?”

“Too many to count,” Owen muttered under his breath. He was already thinking of the hand of cards he’d be playing tonight at his favorite gaming hell.

“What was that?” His father narrowed his eyes on him.

Oh, devil take it. His father had heard his mutter. “Quite a few,” Owen answered in a clearer voice.

“And how many times have you left here and done absolutely nothing to comply with my wishes?” his father replied, still tugging on his lapels.

“Too many to count,” Owen muttered again, glancing down at the tabletop so he wouldn’t have to witness the assault on the garment.

“You’ve never complied with my wishes!” The Earl of Moreland banged his large fist against the desk. The inkpot bounced. “Damn it, Owen, you’re to inherit the title one day. You’re to be an earl, for heaven’s sake. You’re to take your seat in Parliament and be a productive member of Society. You cannot continue to comport yourself as if you’re nothing more than a gadabout.”

“But I am nothing more than a gadabout.” Owen sighed and scratched at the underside of his chin. “Haven’t you told me that ever since my days at Eton?”

“We’re not going to talk about that again,” the earl replied, a thunderous expression hovering across his brow.

That’s right. His father had never even asked him what happened. Just assumed the worst about his son. And Owen had set about proving him right ever since.

“And you’re not a gadabout,” the earl continued. “Or you won’t be.” He banged his fist on the desk again. At least he’d surrendered the poor, blameless lapels. “I’m tired of having this conversation with you to no avail. I’m tired of seeing you while away your days drinking and gambling. I’m tired of hearing stories about your exploits all over town.”

Owen rubbed a knuckle against his forehead. “Oh, come now. They aren’t all over town, are they?”

His father’s jowls shook as he clutched his lapels even more tightly again. “Don’t be impertinent.”

“I’ve long since passed impertinent. And please have a care for your jacket, Father.” Owen smoothed a hand over the thigh of his coffee-colored breeches. Also not cheap. Living the lifestyle to which he’d grown accustomed was, in fact, quite expensive, and his monthly allowance from his father was the means by which he maintained his lifestyle. Hence Owen’s willingness to come here regularly and receive his dressing-down. It was a means to an end. He kept his father happy, and a large bank draft was deposited into his account each month. Of course, he sent a sizable portion of his allowance each month to an orphanage near one of the gaming hells he frequented, but he’d never tell his father that. Why spoil the man’s bad opinion of him? Besides, Owen wasn’t in the business of untarnishing his reputation. In fact, he’d been doing the exact opposite for years. It was a sport for him, really, much like training his beloved horses.

“Damn it, Owen. You must care about something.

Owen did care about something. He adored his younger sister, Cassandra, and his horses. In that order. Neither had ever let him down. Neither had ever believed the worst of him. “I care about the damage you’re wreaking on your lapels,” he drawled.

The earl lifted his chin. “That’s it. I’ve given you plenty of opportunities. I’m officially finished putting up with your behavior. You will return here one month from today with an affianced bride or else!”

Owen’s gaze flicked over his father. Was that spittle on his chin? The old blighter really had his back up this time, didn’t he? But Owen couldn’t help himself. “Or else what?”

“Or else … or else I will cut off your allowance. Yes. That’s it. I should have done it long before now. I am not giving you another pound until you are properly engaged.”

Owen arched a brow and picked another invisible piece of lint, this time from his coat sleeve. “That’s a bit dramatic, don’t you think?”

His father’s face turned even redder, if that were possible. “No. I don’t.”

Owen studied his father’s countenance. By God, the old man was actually serious. Or at least seemed to believe he was serious. His face was a mottled purplish color and his neck was bulging beneath his neckcloth. Yes, Father was serious, indeed. Owen groaned. He’d always known this day would come. The day when his father insisted he take a wife. He supposed he couldn’t escape the parson’s noose forever. He’d had a good run, actually.

Owen shrugged. “Fine. If I must choose a wife, I’ll pick one out. Someone biddable, willing, quiet. One who’ll look the other way. Someone passably pretty and exceedingly meek.”

His father shook his head. “You don’t understand, Owen.”

Owen flicked at his cheek. “Understand what?”

“I’m not asking you to choose a wife. I’m telling you whom you’ll marry.”

Owen’s head snapped up. “You mean to say you’ve already got a candidate in mind?”

His father nodded, his jowls shaking vigorously once more. “Yes. Her father and I have already been discussing the contract.”

Owen leaned back into his seat, the wind knocked from his lungs. Well, he hadn’t seen this coming. Not at all. And he was rarely caught by surprise. He leaned far back in his chair, stretched out his long legs in front of him, and crossed his feet at the ankles. Perhaps this was even more serious than he’d guessed. “Discussing the contract? Good God. Who is it?”

His father cleared his throat, released his beleaguered jacket, and calmly folded his hands on the desk in front of him. “Lady Lavinia Hobbs. The Duke of Huntley’s eldest daughter.”

Owen scanned his memory. Hobbs? Lavinia Hobbs? The name was familiar, but he couldn’t recall a face. Blast. There were far too many pretty little daughters of overly entitled aristocrats to remember them all. And they were certainly not the sort of company Owen preferred to keep. The Duke of Huntley owned land adjacent to Father’s in the country. He knew that much. He’d been to parties at the duke’s country estate countless times. But none of that mattered to him at present. What did Lavinia Hobbs look like? More important, what did she actlike? Was she biddable? Was she meek?

He couldn’t recall and he wasn’t about to ask his obviously enraged father. No matter. One eligible innocent was as good as another, Owen supposed. What did it matter whom he married? He’d stop his merrymaking long enough to participate in a wedding, get an heir or two off her, and then resume his style of living. It was more the norm than the exception among his set. It signified little. This was nothing to worry about.

“I’m certain she’s fine, Father. Whatever you say.” Again, Owen stood to make his way to the door. He’d simply go to the club and get a good drunk going, and then he would continue to live his life exactly the way he had been doing for the last thirty-one years. A sennight or so before his next visit to his father, he would track down this Lavinia Hobbs, toss around a bit of charm, smile at her, kiss the back of her hand, and finally ask her to marry him. She’d jump at the chance, of course, because despite his sullied reputation, he was still one of the most eligible bachelors in the ton. Inheriting an earldom tended to whitewash even the most tattered reputation. Then, he’d return here in a month’s time, announce his success to his father, secure his allowance, and go about his routine, while Lady Lavinia planned a wedding worthy of a future earl and the daughter of a duke. After the wedding, he’d install the chit in one of their homes in the country, and that would be that until it was time to beget an heir. Not so difficult, really. He shrugged.

“You agree so easily?” His father’s bushy eyebrows flew to the top of his forehead.

Owen grinned at his father. “Yes. Lavinia Hobbs it is. I’ll see you in a month, Father.” He made his way toward the door.

“Not so fast.”

Owen paused, his fingers resting on the door handle. He turned slowly and arched a questioning brow in the earl’s direction. “Yes?”

The earl cleared his throat. “There is a catch.”

“A catch?” Owen echoed. He didn’t quite like the sound of that. “What catch?”

“Her father insists that she should choose you.”

Owen’s hand fell away from the door. He turned to fully face his father. “Chooseme? What do you mean?”

“Apparently, the girl’s got it in her head that she will marry only for love.”

Owen scowled and rubbed a hand across his forehead again. “Love? What nonsense is that?”

“Her parents value her highly and are quite indulgent of her. They’ve promised her she can marry for love. Until she fancies herself in love with some chap, she won’t accept his suit.”

Owen did roll his eyes this time. “How droll. Good God, Father, why this girl of all girls?”

“Because she comes from impeccable lineage. And once the match is made, the combination of our lands will secure the future of the title for centuries. She’s the perfect mate for you. But you are going to have to be the biddable, willing one.You are going to have to be the meek one. You are going to have to court this girl. Make her see your, ahem, assets, however questionable they may be.”

Owen snorted. “Your faith in me is truly astounding, Father.”

“Be that as it may, you’re going to have to convince her not only to marry you but fall in love with you as well.”

Owen’s grin widened. “I doubt it will be as difficult as you believe. I do possess a modicum of charm, you know?”

His father’s face adequately reflected his skepticism. “There’s one other thing.”

Owen groaned. “Dare I ask?”

“You cannot tell her that we are already planning a contract.”

Owen rubbed his temples. He wished he hadn’t had quite so many brandies last night at the club or quite so few earlier this afternoon. “Seems the whole thing could be put to rights with just coming out and telling her we’re to marry.”

“Absolutely not. Her father will stop the proceedings if she is made aware. She’s a bit, er, excitable, it seems.”

Owen scowled. “Excitable?”

“Gets her back up about certain things if she’s not happy.”

“Fine. Whatever you say. I’ll think of something. I’ll manage it.” Owen turned again, wrenched open the door, and took a step into the corridor.

“You have a month to get her to agree to your proposal, Owen,” his father called.

Owen turned his head and grinned at his father. “That should be plenty of time.” He strolled off down the corridor, whistling to himself. A month to get a Society miss to fancy herself in love with him? How difficult could it be?

REVIEW

The Skinny

Lady Alexandra Hobbs has always believed she would marry Lord Owen Monroe. Ever since seeing him save her sibling under her own sill one night. Despite her deep-hidden secrets, her father, Duke of Huntley, has deemed her spoiled sister will marry Owen Monroe, whose own father has given him the ultimatum to make the engagement happen within a month.

Owen accepts Alex’s proposal to help one another in their specific areas of romance and end up with a romance of their own on their hands. Owen wants nothing to tarnish Alex’s reputation in learning how to woo the shrew that is her sister. Throw in a good-natured, prank-loving crew of friends and it makes for one interesting mix.

The Players

Alexandra – an adventurous 18-year-old who has suffered in her sister’s shadows, she has been in love with one man for years

Levinia – Alexandra’s older sister who detests everything, known to throw outright temper tantrums and always get her way, no one can enjoy her sour company

Thomas – Alex and Levinia’s brother who is often away at school but when home tries to show he cares for Alex

Owen – a lord with a rakehell reputation hellbent on keeping it so, he is given an ultimatum

Cass – Owen’s younger sister, she has always supported and loved him despite his reputation and parents’ feelings

The Quote

“Very well, what can we do to calm your nerves, my lady?”

“DO you have any port wine? I always seem to enjoy it when I seank a bit from Father’s stash.”

Owen nearly guffawed at that. “You sneak port?”

“Yes.” She nodded matter-of-factly.

She was positively adorable.

The Highs and Lows

  • Lady Alexandra. Alex is everything a proper lady should not be. She is not tall and willowy and ethereally beautiful. She is vivacious and voluptuous. She does not always follow her parents wishes, though they never know. She believes in doing good things for others. She is kind and compassionate and loving. She is frank and honest and doesn’t censor herself to be coy and coquettish.
  • The Ultimatum. Lord Owen Monroe is challenged to an ultimatum by his father. He has rather come to like his monthly allowance, as he enjoys expensive clothing…and other expensive tastes. Owen must marry Lady Lavinia Hobbs and has one month to become engaged. Owen has always challenged his father, who sees him as a failure, and sets out to prove himself and show his father that he can and will court and seek out Lady Lavinia’s hand.
  • The Deal. Alexandra discovers her parents plans to have Lord Owen court Lavinia. As a ploy of her own, she strikes a bargain with Owen. She wants a successful (re)launch into the ton. He wants to court Lavinia. She can give him all the insights into Lavinia, and he can teach her how to be coquettish and popular and a sought-after Lady. All the while Owen believes she is in love with some blonde haired, blue eyed, titled man (conclusion: Lord Berckley) and Alexandra falls for Owen more with each passing day.
  • Lavinia. The Leech. Lavinia is beyond an overly pampered, spoiled little rich girl. She is a downright snake. She is 20 or 21 and throws childish tantrums – in public. In people’s homes! In the ton! As a child she nearly died from an illness. Ever since her parents have given in to anything she demands and going a day without her screeching, screaming fits is nonexistant. They coddle her to the nth degree, and meanwhile completely neglect Alex. She could not even have friends as a child because she had to be available to always play with Lavinia. She is often shut up in her room due to the family always putting Lavinia first. Whatever she has ever wanted in life, Lavinia gets – no matter the cost or harm to her sister. By the end of the book I firmly believed her parents needed to institutionalize her.
  • The Reputation of the Hobbs Family. One fault I found with the plot lays with Lavinia. If she throws public temper tantrums in people’s homes, at their balls and dinner parties, how has the tabloids and the ton not destroyed the family reputation? How have people not claimed she is stark raving mad? And how could Lavinia’s parents neglect their younger daughter to such a degree?
  • Lord Owen. Owen has always seen himself as a failure, not good enough after one disastrous stable burning at Eton, for which he was kicked out. Although never given the opportunity to explain the accident, Owen’s father the Earl jumps down his throat. I would say Owen’s rakehell behavior was a byproduct of his father’s overbearing insensitiveness. However, he secretly donates a portion of his monthly allowance to the boys’ orphanage. He pays the toll passage into the city for a poor farmer with a deathly sick child. He saved Thomas and the young stable boy from being beaten by two twenty-something “men” one night under Alex’s window when she was just fifteen. Although he denies the small good things he does do, Alex and Cass and a few others see them.
  • The Hobbs Rule. Lavinia and Alex’s parents have imposed a very strict rule in their household. Lavinia must get engaged and marry first, but no man on the Earth would want the dour, stodgy, sneering Lavinia. The only good thing going for her is that she likes horses. That is it. This, obviously, puts immense pressure on Alex, who has no choice in the matter. Even if there were a man who was out of his mind enough to ask for Lavinia’s hand, she could still say no and turn him down. Alex will be an old woman long dead in her grave waiting to get married at this rate.
  • The Rascals. Lord Owen has his own small crew of close friends, including his own sister. This small group of titled, noble and esteemed ladies and gents have been known to pull some outlandish pranks – including hosting a ball in the name of a nonexistant person – and they are prepared to take Alex under their wing. They see the writing on the wall and intervene at every opportunity to assist Alex in her endeavor. They are one interesting crew!

The Take-Away

Alex’s love and devotion to Owen was so utterly sweet and delightful. She never gave up on him, never faltered. As their “business” continues, Alex falls more and more for Owen, and Owen can’t seem to get her out of his own head. What I hated was how both of them were placed in situations dictated by others. Alex was in the worst of places, almost as an afterthought to her entire family, with everything dictated Castro-style by Lavinia. As pointed out to Owen, he is still behaving as a child, following his father’s bellows at his age about whom he should marry. Owen ends up pointing out these things for Alex, but I thank the twinkling stars above that someone was brave enough to broach the subject and point out things to Owen. At several points in the book, I became very emotional about Alex’s circumstances, and I hoped she could escape them. Lord Owen Monroe is the only one daring enough to defy her father, and his own, to save them both.

Recommendation – Buy, Borrow or Skip? 

Definitely don’t skip! I really want to put this one on the buy list. It’s your personal preference, but I lean to buy.

 

About the Author

Valerie Bowman

Valerie Bowman’s debut novel was published in 2012. Since then, her books have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. She’s been an RT Reviewers’ Choice nominee for Best First Historical Romance and Best Historical Romance Love and Laughter. Two of her books have been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for fiction.

Valerie grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English Language and Literature with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Doing It Over

First Chapter First Paragraph

Today I’m participating in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea, in which bloggers share a bit about a book they’re reading or planning to read soon.



27387202Prelude

She’d earned the cap…and the gown, and there was no way Melanie was goig to take it off until she fell nto bed later that night. Tossing her cap in the air would have resulted in someone wlse grabbing to so when Principal Mason of River Bend High had announced the graduating class, Melanie shot from her seat, waved a hand in the air, and screamed.

Chapter 1

Ten Years Later

Grant’s Pass killed her car. Melanie turned off the interstate and headed toward the coast, knowing the chances of passing other drivers once the sun set was nil. The noise from under the hood and the occasional coughing of exhaust that exploded from her tailpipe, were evidence of her earlier conviction.


Synopsis:

Voted Most Likely to Succeed, Melanie Bartlett ended up anything but. The down-on-her-luck single mom wants a complete do-over—is that too much to ask? With her family long gone from River Bend, strong, independent Mel is as surprised as anyone to end up in the quaint small town she once called home. But with her friends, Jo and Zoe, by her side, and a comfortable room at Miss Gina’s quirky bed-and-breakfast, she just might have turned the corner on a new life.

Wyatt Gibson never liked the big city. River Bend suits the ruggedly handsome builder just fine. Wyatt knows he’s home, even if that means being charmed by the appearance of Melanie and her spunky, adorable daughter. Is Wyatt’s calm devotion—even amid a coming storm—enough to convince Mel she may have found a home to call her own, a family that never leaves, and a true love to last a lifetime?

Would you keep reading?