Blogger Shame

Okay, I said I was going to write twelve way past due reviews last year and I may have written two.  I promise myself that I will do better this year.  I have just posted my first one for Hot Secrets that I should have reviewed four, maybe five years ago.  I know what I have to do is create a schedule with reminders because it is way too easy to “forget” to do the things I don’t want to do in the first place.

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Hot Secrets (Tall, Dark, and Deadly, #1) by Lisa Renee Jones

Hot Secrets (Tall, Dark & Deadly #1)Hot Secrets by Lisa Renee Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Title: Hot Secrets
Author: Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Tall, Dark, & Deadly; #1
Pages: 197
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Date: January 23, 2012

Summary:

The Walker Brothers…

Tall, dark, and deadly, these three brothers run Walker security. Each brother is unique in his methods and skills, but all share key similarities. They are passionate about those they love, relentless when fighting for a cause they believe in, and all believe that no case is too hard, no danger too dark. Dedication is what they deliver, results are their reward.

Book 1 HOT SECRETS:

Royce Walker, a former FBI Agent, who’s opened a private security firm with his brothers, has always had the hots for the prim, proper Assistant District Attorney, but considered her hand’s off because of a family connection. However, when danger threatens Lauren, he isn’t willing to stand by and watch her get hurt. Now the passion for survival is only rivaled by the passion burning between them. And that passion, might just be the death of them both.

Review:

I really hoped to like this book. The premise, hot, sexy bodyguard and prosecuting attorney being threatened, is a good one. And I did . . . like it. And that’s the best I can say about the book. I can’t even say what my problem was with it. The writing is decent, and as I said, the plot is interesting.

I just couldn’t make myself care about the characters. I did want to know who the bad guy was and the book kept me guessing.

I actually found myself more interested in the two brothers. I would like to know their stories, but not enough to spend any time reading the other books.

This title has 3.5 stars on Goodreads and is free on Kindle Unlimited right now. If it sounds like something you might like, give it a try. I know Lisa Renee Jones is a very popular author. It just didn’t do it for me.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6) by Deanna Raybourn

Twelfth Night (Lady Julia Grey, #5.6)Twelfth Night by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Twelfth Night
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Series: Lady Julia Grey
Pages: 51
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Date: June 1, 2014

Summary:

To mark the passing of another decade, the esteemed (and eccentric) March family have assembled at Bellmont Abbey to perform the Twelfth Night Revels for their sleepy English village. But before Lady Julia and her handsome sleuthing husband, Nicolas Brisbane, can take to the stage, a ruckus in the stable yard demands their attention. An abandoned infant is found nestled in the steel helm of St. George. What’s more, their only lead is the local legend of a haunted cottage and its ghastly inhabitant—who seems to have returned.

Once again, Lady Julia and Nicholas take up the challenge to investigate, and when the source of the mystery is revealed, they’ll be faced with an impossible choice—one that will alter the course of their lives…forever.

Review:

I should have reviewed this book when it was first released. I certainly was anxious to read it at the time. Unfortunately, I procrastinated and then forgot to write the review. The silver lining to that is that it forced me to re-read the book in order to finally review it. I enjoyed it even more the second time around.

Twelfth Night is a short story, not a novella, in the Lady Julia Grey universe. If you are not familiar with these books, you have a treat in store for you. You don’t want to start with this one because it is full of spoilers from the previous novels.

I am glad I re-read it at this time because it is definitely a Christmas holiday book, although it does not take place exactly at Christmas. It is a family book as is appropriate for the holidays with family members we love and those we only tolerate, as well as one or two that we would rather avoid altogether.

The best thing about re-reading this book now is that I am once again excited about the Lady Julia Grey books. I see a re-read of the entire series in my near future. If you are new to the series, the author appears to have finished writing them, so you will be able to read them as quickly as you can without having to wait for the next book to be published. I assure you it was hard to wait. They are so good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1) by Jennifer Ashley

Death Below Stairs (Kat Holloway, #1)Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Death Below Stairs
Author: Jennifer Ashley
Series: Kat Holloway, #1 (also called A Below Stairs Mystery)
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

Victorian class lines are crossed when cook Kat Holloway is drawn into a murder that reaches all the way to the throne.

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Review:

First, read the prequel to this book – A Soupcon of Poison. It’s less than a hundred pages, but really sets up the background for Death Below Stairs. The prequel is wonderful and I was anxious for the first actual novel in the series. What do you mean I have to wait two years before it is published?!?

Guess what? Not only did I score an early reviewer’s copy, I got it almost five months before the publication date. And this book was so worth the wait.

Jennifer Ashley is a wonderful author. Some authors write really well in one genre, but lose me when they write something different. She is definitely not one of those authors. I discovered her years ago as a science fiction/romance author writing as Allyson James. I don’t know if I found her historical or paranormal books next, but it doesn’t matter. I love them both. The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie will always be one of my favorite books in any genre.

Anyway, Death Below Stairs is set in Victorian London and focuses on a cook for the upper classes name Kat Holloway. She is an excellent cook and has little trouble obtaining a new position when it becomes necessary. She also has the unfortunate habit of finding dead bodies.

And that is the true focus of this series.

These are historical novels. Yes, there is a developing romance, but it is strictly a subplot. The heart of these books is a mystery. It’s not necessarily just one mystery either. There is a murder, of course, but the why is just as interesting as the who.

Speaking of interesting, to me, it is not the mystery or the romance that makes these books so engrossing. It is the details. Kat talks about the dishes she prepares for the family in the house as well as the servants. It’s not tedious at all. It adds flavor (and yes, that pun is intentional) to the story. And while the family is integral to the plot, it is the characters below stairs and their lives that I find fascinating.

I am not normally a fan of historicals, but the author makes the events so compelling that I am tempted to delve into a little nonfiction reading just to get more of the background. It’s not needed, but my interest has been piqued. Just who were the finnegans?

I highly recommend anything by Jennifer Ashley, but if your taste runs to historicals, you will love this book.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Promise Not to Tell (Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2) by Jayne Ann Krentz

Promise Not to TellPromise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Promise Not to Tell
Author: Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Cutler, Sutter, & Salinas, #2
Pages: 304
Publisher: Berkley
Date: January 2, 2018

Summary:

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she leaves her secrets behind . . .

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire… and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.

Review:

This is the second book in what will be a trilogy about three brothers who survived an early childhood in a cult. The first, When All the Girls Have gone, came out in 2016 and was wonderful. Of course, all of Jayne Ann Krentz’ books are wonderful.

In my opinion, these two books are a little darker than her earlier works. The focus is on the suspense rather than the romance. Make no mistake, the romance is there. It is just not the focus. As with all of her books, there is a strong, alpha male and a strong female that takes no guff from him. And, in my opinion, that’s where the humor comes into this book.

There is one scene where Cabot is upset with his family. He accuses Virginia of taking their side. She tells him:

“I’m not taking sides. I’m offering advice.”

“I don’t need advice.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m not going to give you some. Don’t worry, it’s free.”

In an earlier scene, Virginia is “having words” with her grandmother and Cabot proves his intelligence.

He kept his mouth shut. A smart man did not step between two quarreling lionesses.

It is these moments of lightness that I consider a trademark of a JAK book right along with her alpha males and strong females.

Although this is the second book in a trilogy, it could be read without the first. I don’t recommend it, but you could. -grin- The mystery in this book is resolved, but there is an overarching plot which is not. It all goes back to the cult.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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A Tale of Two Kitties (Magical Cats, #9) by Sofie Kelly

A Tale of Two Kitties (A Magical Cats Mystery #9)A Tale of Two Kitties by Sofie Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: A Tale of Two Kitties
Author: Sofie Kelly
Series: Magical Cats, #9
Pages: 336
Publisher: Berkeley
Date: September 5, 2017

Summary:

With a well-placed paw on a keyboard or a pointed stare, Kathleen’s two cats, Hercules and Owen, have helped her to solve cases in the past—so she has learned to trust their instincts. But she will need to rely on them more than ever when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder…

The arrival of the Janes brothers has the little town of Mayville Heights buzzing. Everyone of a certain age remembers when Victor had an affair with Leo’s wife, who then died in a car accident.

Now it seems the brothers are trying to reconcile, until Kathleen finds Leo dead. The police set their sights on Leo’s son and Kathleen’s good friend Simon, who doesn’t have much of an alibi. To prove her friend innocent, Kathleen will have to dig deep into the town’s history—and into her sardine cracker supply, because Owen and Hercules don’t work for free…

Review:

Hercules and Owen! I love Hercules and Owen! I would hate to have to pick between the two of them for a favorite because they have such distinct personalities. For some reason, Hercules seems to be the more well read of the two while Owen is the one who “gets things done!”

Oh, did I mention they are cats . . . with special powers. Hercules can walk through walls — literally, while Owen can disappear — also literally. And no, after reading these books that doesn’t seem odd at all.

And yes, there are humans in these books that get into all kinds of trouble and have to have the cats help them out.

Hercules and Owen live with Kathleen who is the town librarian. I realize that is a cliche: cats and librarians. However, as I said the cats have special powers and although Kathleen is only human, she is smart enough to let them help her solve the many murders she seems to get involved in.

This book even starts with a dead body.

You’d think by now it wouldn’t bother me to step on a body in the middle of the kitchen floor, but I was in my sock feet and the body — missing its head, no surprise — was damp.

With cat slobber.

And I’m going to leave that right there. You can see why I enjoy these books so much.

A Tale of Two Kitties is number nine in the Magical Cats series. I have loved everyone of the books. There is an extensive cast of recurring characters, so you really want to read them in order. Actually, you don’t want to miss a one of them because they are just that good.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Misconduct (Birmingham Rebels, #4) by Samantha Kane

Misconduct (Birmingham Rebels, #4)Misconduct by Samantha Kane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Title: Misconduct
Author: Samantha Kane
Series: Birmingham Rebels, #4
Pages: 288
Publisher: Loveswept
Date: July 25, 2017

Summary:

Rookie running back Tom Kelly loves the perks of football stardom. Men, women—there’s no shortage of companionship for a pro athlete who’s hot, young, and willing, and Tom is definitely willing. But deep down he wants a committed three-way relationship, especially if the female in the middle is Carmina de la Cruz. The undeniably sexy Army veteran may not say much, but her body speaks loud and clear.

After a traumatic tour in Afghanistan, Carmina is struggling to regain her speech and rebuild her life. More than anything, she wants to feel like a woman again. Tom may be a wholesome All-American, but he knows just how she needs to be touched—and he’s not the only Rebel who arouses her interest. With his scorching intensity, Tom’s best friend leaves her wondering if two players might be better than one.

Danny Smith is no stranger to his team’s kinky reputation. He gave in to temptation once, but he’s not going down that road again. Sure, Carmina’s curves promise pleasure, but her eyes guarantee it comes with baggage—and Danny has enough of his own. Still, giving up control can feel so good. And when it comes to everything Danny craves, Carmina and Tom make the perfect team.

Review:

Although I am a big Samantha Kane fan (Brothers in Arms is the GREATEST!), I never expected to like the Birmingham Rebels series. I don’t like team sports, and I especially don’t like football, but these books are wonderful. And that says something . . . if I enjoy books that take place in a setting that I have no interest in, they must be good.

This one, which is book four, is no exception. Samantha Kane’s books have a continuing storyline, but there are no cliffhangers. It’s just that situations from previous books come up again and the team members and their mates show up as well. This entire series is like a story of an extended family. Obviously, it would be best to read them in order.

Anyway, Tom is the All-American-Boy who everybody loves. Carmina is recovering from injuries she received as a soldier in Afghanistan and is very self-conscious about the disability she is striving to overcome. Danny is angry. That is the best way to describe him. He has good reasons, but he has let his anger control everything in his life.

And that’s why this is a four star and not a five star book. Tom is great, but Carmina and Danny are still too focused on the past. Carmina considers herself broken and in need of fixing. Those are her words. She keeps poking herself in the head when she talks about her problems. Danny needs to get over the past. Yes, something terrible happened, but get over it and move on.

Of course, most of this works out at the end, and a wonderful thing about Samantha Kane’s books is that everything isn’t tied up in a beautiful bow. Life is not perfect. However, her characters are willing to work to make things as good as they can be.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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The Pretenders (Pretenders, #1) by Lisi Harrison

Title: Pretenders
Author: Lisi Harrison
Series: Pretenders, #1
Pages: 293
Publisher: Poppy
Date: October 1, 2013

 

Summary:

It takes place at a high school in New Jersey. Summer is over. Sophomore year begins tomorrow. Outfits are being planned. Lunch buddies are being secured. Texts are flying. All seems normal when…ping! Everyone in the sophomore class gets an email.

SUBJECT: The Phoenix Five: License To Spill.

Attached is a mega document.

A letter from a mysterious student starts the book. It explains that at the end of each year the school yearbook- The Phoenix- names the five most outstanding freshman. She (or he) always suspected that last years’ five (3 girls, 2 boys) were phonies. She (or he) always thought they tried too hard to be popular. But she (or he) never had the proof. Until now. She (or he) stole the secret diaries they were asked to keep by their English teacher. She (or he) has compiled them into a book.

This is that book.

Review:

I don’t even know where to start. There are so many things I didn’t like about this book that it’s hard to pick one.

Let me say first: the book is YA. I can see the appeal to teenage girls and if I was still a high school librarian, I would probably add it to the collection. However, personally, I had a hard time finishing it.

Now, why don’t I like it.

It’s written in first person which I generally don’t like.
Not only is it first person, it is first person from multiple viewpoints. Five to be exact. I never was able to keep everyone straight.
I was waffling between giving it a two or three-stars until I got to the end. It has a cliffhanger ending which I ALWAYS hate. Two-stars it is.

Anyway, as an adult reading this book, I can appreciate the idea that people hide things from others. Whether it is to impress or to stay unnoticed, people rarely if ever tell the truth about themselves. In this book, which is supposed to be a compilation of five students’ private journals, all those truths come out.

And that is the one thing I like about it. I like the idea that teenage readers (and yes, I am talking primarily about the girls) will see that everyone has something to hide. No one’s life is perfect no matter how it looks on the outside.

So, yes, I would put this in a school library, but I am not in the least tempted to read the sequel even though there was a cliffhanger ending.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Blogger Shame

I was supposed to have reviewed this book when it was released and did not.  I am trying to clear up my back log of reviews owed.

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Quote-tastic Monday: Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis

Lost and Found Sisters (Wildstone, #1)Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Lost and Found Sisters
Author: Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone, #1
Pages: 400
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Date: June 20, 2017

Summary:

They say life can change in an instant…

After losing her sister in a devastating car accident, chef Quinn Weller is finally getting her life back on track. She appears to have it all: a loving family, a dream job in one of L.A.’s hottest eateries, and a gorgeous boyfriend dying to slip an engagement ring on her finger. So why does she feel so empty, like she’s looking for a missing piece she can’t find?

The answer comes when a lawyer tracks down Quinn and reveals a bombshell secret and a mysterious inheritance that only she can claim. This shocking revelation washes over Quinn like a tidal wave. Her whole life has been a lie.

On impulse, Quinn gives up her job, home, and boyfriend. She heads up the coast to the small hometown of Wildstone, California, which is just a few hours north, but feels worlds apart from Los Angeles. Though she doesn’t quite fit in right away, she can’t help but be drawn to the town’s simple pleasures…and the handsome, dark-haired stranger who offers friendship with no questions asked.

As Quinn settles into Wildstone, she discovers there’s another surprise in store for her. The inheritance isn’t a house or money, but rather something earth shattering, something that will make her question everything she thought she knew about herself, about her family. Now with a world of possibilities opening up to Quinn, she must decide if this new life is the one she was always meant to have—and the one that could finally give her the fulfillment she’s searched so long for.

Review:

Sometimes you read a book that is a great book, but there just aren’t any specific lines that stick out. Sometimes a book has some good lines, but overall it isn’t that great of a book. And then there are the books that are just great: great plot, likable characters, and terrific lines.

Jill Shalvis’ new book Lost and Found Sisters is one of those books. It was an easy five star book. I didn’t have to waffle between is it really a five star or should I just give it a four and a half. This one is a five star all the way through.

I have to admit I was a little worried about this book. Shalvis said herself that it is a different direction for her. I have given up on authors before because they no longer give me what I fell in love with their writing for. Thank goodness, Lost and Found Sisters is just as wonderful as everything else she has written.

Now for some of the quotes that I loved. They either were “laugh out loud” lines or “Oh my god, that’s me” lines. Sometimes both.

“Hey, darlin’, how’s life today?” “Good,” Quinn said. She didn’t want to brag, but she’d totally gotten out of bed today with only two hits of the snooze button.

Now this one really wasn’t me. One thing I have no problem with is getting up in the morning.

So here was the thing. There were days where Quinn surprised herself with her abilities, and others where she put her keys in the fridge.

This one however is a “she must be looking in my window because it is so me” line.

“You’ve got nothing to apologize for,” Skye said. “If it’s got tires or testicles, it’s gonna give you trouble.” Wasn’t that the truth . . .

Enough said.

She pulled back out into the street, and her GPS—programmed to find the town of Wildstone—wasn’t sure what to do with itself now that they were here. “In half a mile turn right,” it intoned in an irritated female voice that insinuated Quinn was an idiot.

I actually argue with my GPS. Unfortunately, she gets the last laugh because I can end up anywhere.

She put a hand over the screen of his phone and he yelped, pulling the phone free to stare at it. “Ah, man. You made me lose a life.” “Want to lose another?”

Definitely me. I love my cell phone. However, I hate when people won’t put theirs down when I am talking to them.

“Are you always so rude?” “Yes, one hundred percent. It’s called sarcasm and attitude, which are both so much cheaper than therapy and bail. What can I do for you?”

Love it! Love it! Love it!

There should be a weather app for people with social anxiety, like “Today life will be partly crowdy with a 70 percent chance of having to deal with people.”

This one makes me think of Anna Cade over at the book blog Herding Cats & Burning Soup. Okay, it speaks to me too.

I made it through the day without beating anyone with a chair. I’d say my people skills are improving.

Not to mention, I don’t look good in orange or stripes.

Quote-Tastic Monday” is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  Head on over there to see what everyone else is posting about this week.

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Quote-tastic Monday: Curious Minds (Knight & Moon, #1) by Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)

Okay, this is a redux of a review I posted in July of last year.  I have just re-read this book because its sequel, Dangerous Minds, is due out next week – June 20, 2017.  Let’s be honest though.  I re-read this book because it is great.  I have read it three times now and it deserves the five stars I gave it from the start.  The plot is hysterical, the interactions are hysterical, and it has some of the funniest lines I have ever read.

If you never had a chance to read it, grab it.  It will definitely get you out of any reading slump you may be suffering.  And yes, I’m talking about me.

Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Title: Curious Minds
Author: Janet Evanovich & Phoef Sutton
Series: Knight & Moon, #1
Pages: 336
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Date: August 16, 2016

Summary:

Emerson Knight is introverted, eccentric, and has little to no sense of social etiquette. Good thing he’s also brilliant, rich, and (some people might say) handsome, or he’d probably be homeless. Riley Moon has just graduated from Harvard Business and Harvard Law. Her aggressive Texas spitfire attitude has helped her land her dream job as a junior analyst with mega-bank Blane-Grunwald. At least Riley Moon thought it was her dream job, until she is given her first assignment: babysitting Emerson Knight.

What starts off as an inquiry about missing bank funds in the Knight account leads to inquiries about a missing man, missing gold, and a life-and-death race across the country. Through the streets of Washington, D.C., and down into the underground vault of the Federal Reserve in New York City, an evil plan is exposed. A plan so sinister that only a megalomaniac could think it up, and only the unlikely duo of the irrepressibly charming Emerson Knight and the tenacious Riley Moon can stop it.

Review:

I loved this book – absolutely loved this book. Five stars is not enough. I cannot wait for the next one and there’s not even a title yet on Goodreads. I want it NOW!

UPDATE:  BOOK TWO, DANGEROUS MINDS, IS DUE OUT ON JUNE 20, 2017.

Okay, I have that out of my system.

This is the first book in Janet Evanovich’s new series and it is cowritten with Phoef Sutton. It’s really funny just like the Stephanie Plum books, but for some reason doesn’t read like a Plum book. The zaniness and humor are there, but it just doesn’t seem the same. I can’t really explain it.

The book is written from Riley’s point of view, but Emerson is my favorite character. He is so brilliant and so rich that he doesn’t follow normal societal rules and that’s what makes him my favorite. When he is told he can’t do something, his response is not “why not?”, but “I’m already doing it.”

I don’t normally use a lot of quotes in my reviews, but I’m making an exception for this one. None of them are spoilers and you have to see why I think this book is so great.

“You don’t seem especially worried,” Emerson said. “I drink a lot,” Irene said. “And I smoke dope. It keeps me more or less happy.”

That will do it.

In this next quote, Riley wants her breakfast and has told him she gets irritable if she isn’t fed.

“I like you fine.” “I’m not irritable yet.” “You’re not?” Emerson said with surprise. “Very funny.” “I wasn’t trying to be funny,” . . .

Emerson can definitely try anyone’s patience.

Riley reminded herself that she was a professional, and stabbing Emerson with her nail file wouldn’t be appropriate.

And just throwing this one out there,

“Attempted murder is something a lot of couples can’t get past.”

Emerson is not inexperienced with women.

“You have that look,” Emerson said to Riley.
“What look?”
“Squinty eyes, jaw clenched, shoulders hunched. I’ve seen that look on women before and it’s never turned out well.”

And this is a workout program I could get behind.

Irene Grunwald got up early every morning to work out. And by “work out” she meant have a pitcher of sangria while lying in a lounge chair in her backyard and watching the sun rise over the river.

Read this book. You will not regret it.

This book was sent to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Quote-Tastic Monday” is a meme hosted every Monday on Herding Cats & Burning Soup.  Head on over there to see what everyone else is posting about this week.

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