Metropolis by B. A. Shapiro @ba_shapiro @algonquinbooks #Metropolis

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Metropolis
A Novel
HARDBACK EBOOK AUDIOBOOK
By B. A. Shapiro

Categories
Fiction
Number of pages
368
Publication date
May 17, 2022
ISBN
9781616209582

About the Book:


This masterful novel of psychological suspense from the New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger follows a cast of unforgettable characters whose lives intersect when a harrowing accident occurs at the Metropolis Storage Warehouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

But was it really an accident? Was it suicide? A murder? Six mysterious characters, who rent units in, or are connected to, the self-storage facility, must now reevaluate their lives. We meet Serge, an unstable but brilliant street photographer who lives in his unit, which overflows with thousands of undeveloped pictures; Zach, the building’s owner, who develops Serge’s photos as he searches for clues to the accident; Marta, an undocumented immigrant who is finishing her dissertation and hiding from ICE; Liddy, an abused wife and mother, who recreates her children’s bedroom in her unit; Jason, who has left his corporate firm and now practices law from his storage unit; and Rose, the office manager, who takes kickbacks to let renters live in the building and has her own complicated family history.

The characters have a variety of backgrounds: they are different races; they practice different religions; they’re young and they’re not so young; they are rich, poor, and somewhere in the middle. As they dip in and out of one another’s lives, fight circumstances that are within and also beyond their control, and try to discover the details of the accident, Shapiro both dismantles the myth of the American dream and builds tension to an exciting climax.

For readers of Janelle Brown, Lucy Foley, Megan Abbott, and Laura Lippman, Metropolis is an original, spellbinding, and moving story of what we hang on to, what we might need to let go, and how unexpected events can lead us to discover our truest selves.

About the Author:

B. A. Shapiro is the bestselling author of The Collector’s Apprentice, The Muralist, and The Art Forger, which won the New England Book Award for Fiction and the Boston Authors Society Award for Fiction, among other honors. Her books have been selected as community reads in numerous cities and translated throughout the world. Before becoming a novelist, she taught sociology at Tufts University and creative writing at Northeastern University. She and her husband, Dan, divide their time between Boston and Florida.


Review Quotes:


“Metropolis has all the elements I love in a novel: fascinating characters, a pace that crackles with tension, and a deeper message that will resonate with everyone. Once again, B. A. Shapiro weaves a unique and riveting tale.”
—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of I Know a Secret

“A rich and gripping journey through intersecting lives, a nuanced exploration of characters who share nothing in common—but almost everything too. Inventive and immersive, it’s a page-turner of novel that will also make you want to slow down and soak it all in.”
—Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of November Road

“In Metropolis, Shapiro is the literary equivalent of a master juggler, writing with tremendous compassion and a wonderful knack for storytelling. Her characters whirl together within the confines of a self-storage unit and, though at its core is a mystery, its beating heart is their stories. It is a dazzling performance and a novel that will stay with me for a long time to come.”
—Mary Morris, author of Gateway to the Moon

My Review:

So many things about Metropolis made me curious: the title, the synopsis and the unique cover. I didn’t hesitate to join the blog tour immediately when Algonquin Books emailed me the invite.

B.A. Shapiro is a new-to-me author and her writing is engaging and visual. The six characters are all well fleshed out and have their own, very personal, struggles.

The plot is unique: a mystery in a storage facility. I loved the way how each person had their own storage unit and their own story. I felt this was a unique approach to take.

Metropolis kept me hooked from beginning to end.

Thanks to B.A. Shapiro and Algonquin Books for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars

Where to Buy:

$27.95 (US)
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Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Books-A-Million
Bookshop

IndieBound

The Bad Boy Experiment (The Bourbon Brothers Book 6) by Reese Ryan

THE BAD BOY EXPERIMENT by Reese Ryan (on-sale Dec.28, Harlequin Desire)

About the Book:

A steamy fling with an old crush who doesn’t do commitment? What was she thinking! Find out in the conclusion to Reese Ryan’s Bourbon Brothers series. What happens when you say yes to a bad boy? Even if divorcée Renee Lockwood were willing to give love a second chance, she wouldn’t choose Cole Abbott. The sexy, successful real estate developer doesn’t do commitment. But he’s perfect for a no-strings fling—exactly what Ren needs now that she’s moved back home to raise her son. Mind-blowing pleasure with the man she once crushed on is harder to quit than Ren expected. Impossible, in fact. Is time running out before the bad boy bolts…or will the results of her experiment surprise her?


About the Author:

Reese Ryan writes sexy, contemporary romance featuring a diverse cast of complex characters. She presents her characters with family and career drama, challenging love interests and life-changing secrets while treating readers to emotional love stories with unexpected twists. Past president of her local RWA chapter and a panelist at the 2017 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Reese is an advocate of the romance genre and diversity in fiction. Visit her online at ReeseRyan.com.

Where to Buy:

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Boy-Experiment-Bourbon-Brothers/dp/1335735380/ref=tmm_mmp_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1637071403&sr=8-1


Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-bad-boy-experiment-reese-ryan/1139674788?ean=9781335735386


Harlequin.com: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335735386_the-bad-boy-experiment.html

My Review:

I loved Book 4 in this series, A Reunion of Rivals, and so I am pleased to review The Bad Boy Experiment. Renee and Cole are great together, and the romance is steamy. Renee is divorced and has a son with disabilities, Mercer. The characters are well fleshed out and I enjoyed the plot. Reese Ryan is one of my favourite romance/Harlequin authors.

Thanks to Reese Ryan and Harlequin Desire for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

Excerpt:

Renee turned and started down the stairs. Suddenly, the door swung open, taking her by surprise. She missed a step, tripping but catching herself on the banister before she face-planted in the gravel.
Graceful, Renee. You’re a regular Misty Copeland.
“Ren?” Cole hurried down the stairs. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I thought maybe you’d… I don’t know.” She shrugged. “Changed your mind.”
She was flustered and rambling like a fool. Yep, this was definitely a bad idea.
Stop talking and make a graceful exit, if that’s even possible at this point.
“Not a chance, sweetheart.” Cole extended a hand. “C’mon inside.”
Renee swallowed hard, her hand trembling as she placed it inside his.
Don’t chicken out now.
Cole led her into the kitchen. Like hers, it was outdated. It reminded her of her Aunt Bea standing at the old stove making fried corn or her famous chicken and dumplings—the first thing Ren had ever learned to cook.
“Still feels weird being here, huh?” Cole’s voice shook her from her temporary daze.
“Very.”
They entered the living room where an exercise mat and weights were on the floor.
“You were working out. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have disturbed you.” Ren glanced at the equipment. “I know it’s really late and—”
“Renee…” Cole drew her closer, pulling her attention back to him. His gaze was soft and warm as he stroked her cheek. “It’s okay. We both know why you came here.” He managed to say the words without sounding cocky. “But I need to hear it from you. Tell me exactly what you want from me.”
Ren’s head was spinning. No one had ever asked her that. Not in a relationship or her career. And now that he had, she wasn’t quite sure what to say.
So instead, she clutched Cole’s white Abbott Construction & Development T-shirt, pulled him closer and pressed her lips to his.

The Shoe Diaries by Darby Baham @darbybaham @Harlequinbooks

THE SHOE DIARIES by Darby Baham (on-sale Jan.25, Harlequin Special Edition)

About the Book:

It’s never too late to put your best foot forward. From the outside, Reagan “Rae” Doucet has it all: a coveted career in Washington, DC, a tight circle of friends and a shoe closet to die for. When one of her crew falls ill, however, Rae is done playing it safe. The talented but unfulfilled writer makes a “risk list” to revamp her life. But forgiving her ex, Jake Saunders, might be one risk too many.


About the Author:

Darby Baham is a debut author with Harlequin Books Special Edition, where she signed a three-book deal in August 2020. She is also a senior managing editor with The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.

My Review:

Reagan “Rae” Doucet has it all (or thinks she does). She has a good job, lots of friends and shoes….LOTS of them.

I requested this wanting a bit of retail therapy and what I got was that and so much more. I was wondering how life would work out for Rae, and I wanted her to succeed. I also wanted as many shoes as she had.

I’m so glad that The Shoe Diaries is first in a series, and I love the name of the series: The Friendship Chronicles.

I like the plot, characters and pacing of this novel and can’t wait for the next book. It reminded me a lot of Sex in the City, of which I am a fan.

Perfect for shoeaholics everywhere.

Thanks to Darby Baham and publisher for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars.

Where to Buy:


Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-shoe-diaries-darby-baham/1139911402?ean=9781335408365


Harlequin:

https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335408365_the-shoe-diaries.html

Excerpt:

He was inches away from me when I fell into his arms and began crying. All the anger I’d felt toward him, the hurt he caused me, the stupid ways he’d played me…they all meant nothing in this moment. He was here when I needed him the most. And I could no longer hold my tears back as he stood without a word and let me soak his shirt with sobs for minutes, only occasionally rubbing my hair to bring me comfort.
“Maybe we should go for a walk,” he finally said.
“A walk sounds good.”
“Wait, what are you doing here?” I asked once I had a moment to calm down. We’d walked to Jake’s car to get some privacy while I tried drying up my tears, but the peace and quiet away from the hospital walls also brought me back to reality. It certainly didn’t help that Jake had the kind of car a man gets when he has no intention of having obligations any time soon: a two-seater, silver Jaguar F-TYPE. It was gorgeous on the outside, intimate inside and was also a stark reminder of the reason we broke up in the first place.
“Christine’s mom called me. I assume she was just going through the numbers she had of her friends, and I was still on the list.”
“Oh.”
I guess I’d forgotten that Mama Vasquez had Jake’s number from when we were in college. And that we hadn’t exactly updated her to let her know he shouldn’t still be on the call list of people to inform if something went wrong.
“And so you came all the way from New York?”
“Actually, no. I was in town already for work. It’s why I called you the other night as well. Was hoping we could talk after all these years. But then when Chrissy’s mom called, I just figured it was fate I was here, and so I should come.”
“You definitely came around that corner just as I needed you to,” I admitted with a sigh. “I’m sorry about that, by the way. I just… I couldn’t cry in there and then I saw you and—”
“Hey, you don’t have to apologize for that. I’m—I don’t want to say glad but—grateful I was there when you needed someone.”
“Thank you. I don’t want to make this about me, though. She’s the one in there fighting for her life. I was simply trying to encourage her to keep doing so because… I’m… I’m just not ready to lose my friend.” I held back more tears that were aching to flow down my cheeks.
“And it’s okay to feel that,” he said, lifting my head so we were eye to eye. “It’s okay to not be everyone’s strength all the time. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Yeah, I hear you.”
“I don’t think you do, but that’s okay, too. Just know you don’t have to be strong with me. I can take your tears and your questions.”

The Rancher’s Forgotten Rival by Maisey Yates

THE RANCHER’S FORGOTTEN RIVAL by Maisey Yates (on-sale Jan.25, Harlequin Desire)

About the Book:

Will amnesia turn these enemies into lovers? It’s a hero in distress, with a more than capable damsel on hand to save to him. Find out more about the book in this book #1 miniseries, Carsons of Lone Rock, by New York Times bestselling author Maisey Yates. Welcome to Lone Rock, Oregon’s Wild West. Chance Carson is the one man in Lone Rock who gets Juniper all riled up. His family is ranching royalty. He’s arrogant, insufferable and obnoxiously charming—she’ll keep her distance, thanks. But when Juniper finds Chance Carson on her property, injured and without his memory, she saves his life…and sort of lets him believe he’s her ranch hand. Making the entitled rancher work a little is one thing…but actually liking the man is another. Falling for him? No way. And yet the passion between them is as undeniable as it is unexpected. Will it survive the truth?

About the Author:

Maisey Yates is a New York Times bestselling author of over one hundred romance novels. Whether she’s writing strong, hard working cowboys, dissolute princes or multigenerational family stories, she loves getting lost in fictional worlds. An avid knitter with a dangerous yarn addiction and an aversion to housework, Maisey lives with her husband and three kids in rural Oregon. Check out her website, maiseyyates.com or find her on Facebook.

Where to Buy:


Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Ranchers-Forgotten-Rival-Claim-Cowboy-ebook/dp/B098P74ZKQ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=THE+RANCHER%27S+FORGOTTEN+RIVAL+by+Maisey+Yates&qid=1637071359&qsid=133-7575147-1798556&sr=8-1&sres=1335735402%2CB09FSCDNZJ&srpt=ABIS_EBOOKS
Barnes & Noble:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ranchers-forgotten-rival-maisey-yates/1139758363?ean=9781335735409

Excerpt:

Excerpt, RANCHER’S FORGOTTEN RIVAL by Maisey Yates

“You know, I take people to the hospital every day,” she said. “They don’t just go there to die. They go there to be healed. I understand that there can be bad traumatic memories connected to that. But… But the hospital can be a good thing.”
“Logically I know that. But…”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry that the first memory you’re having is so sad.”
“I think it’s probably the strongest one I have. Because I think I felt that sadness inside of me before I ever saw her face. What a hell of a thing. That I almost died. Out there in the field. When…”
“When what?” she whispered.
“My parents have been through enough,” he said. “She must’ve been my sister.”
“Oh.” The word left her body in a gust.
He knew what it was like to lose someone. He was…human.
Just the same as she was.
Just the same as they all were.
The Carsons and Sohappys weren’t so different.
She was hoping he might see that during this time, but she hadn’t expected it would be her own lesson.
She…she had never heard anything about that and she didn’t know why he thought it. Or if it was true. And it still settled hard in her chest.
He was getting way too close to remembering things, and it was getting… Dicey. It was one thing to think that she wanted to endear herself to him this way, but him sharing something personal like this, something he never would’ve shared otherwise, it felt like a violation. And she had never thought that she would feel like she violated Chance Carson. But this was different. The situation with his sister.
No. He had a sister. And she was alive and well.
Callie Carson was much younger than him, and she had gone off and married a rodeo cowboy who lived in Gold Valley.
But the way he was talking about it, it sounded like he was younger.
She felt hungry for more, but at the same time she didn’t want to press him. For so many reasons, but maybe the biggest one was her heart felt so tender right now. For him.
That wasn’t supposed to happen.
“All right,” he said.
He stood up, and she stood at the same time, ready to take his bowl from him.
“I can take the dishes.”
“Oh no, that’s okay,” he said, and she put her hand on the bowl, and her fingertips brushed his, and their eyes locked.
And she felt a frisson of something magical go through her. Something hot and delicious and sticky like cayenne honey, flowing all the way through her veins.
And she could hardly breathe around it. She could hardly think. All she could do was stare. And feel the thundering rhythm of her heart, like a herd of wild mustangs, the kind that you could find out here in Eastern Oregon, and she was sure that he could hear it too.

Harlequin Trade Publishing Winter 2022 Winter Reads Blog Tour: The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf @HTTP_Books @hgudenkauf

THE OVERNIGHT GUEST
Author: Heather Gudenkauf
ISBN: 9780778311935
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Publisher: Park Row Books

About the Book:

In a snowstorm, the safest place is home. Or is it?

True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.

As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. How long had the child been there? Where did he come from? Bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.

About the Author:

Heather Gudenkauf is the critically acclaimed author of several novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Weight of Silence. She lives in Iowa with her husband and children.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed Heather’s previous novels, Not a Sound and This is How I Lied. When I found The Overnight Guest amongst the offerings for Harlequin Trade Publishing, Park Row’s winter reads blog tour, I downloaded it immediately.

There are quite a few characters in The Overnight Guest. The book is set in August 2000. Josie and Becky are best friends. Little do they know their lives will never be the same again…

The plot then skips to the present day. Wylie is a true-crime writer. She’s looking to finish a book about events that happened years ago in Burden, Iowa.

Who is the little boy outside in the snowstorm? Should she invite him in?

The Overnight Guest had me hooked on its synopsis and the twists and turns are amazing, as with the other books of Heather’s I have reviewed. The setting is atmospheric and the plot is engrossing.

Thanks to Heather Gudenkauf and Harlequin Trade Publishing, Park Row for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

I am looking forward to more books by Heather.

5 stars

Where to Buy:


BookShop.org
Harlequin
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Books-A-Million
Powell’s

Social Links:


Author Website
Instagram: @heathergudenkauf
Twitter: @hgudenkauf
Facebook: @HeatherGudenkaufAuthor
Goodreads

Excerpt:

Three

“Maybe we can go outside and play?” the girl said as she peeked around the edge of the heavy curtain that covered the window. The sky was gray and soft drops of rain tapped at the glass.
“Not today,” her mother said. “It’s raining and we’d melt.”
The girl gave a little laugh and then hopped off the chair she had dragged beneath the window. She knew her mother was teasing. They wouldn’t actually melt if they went out in the rain, but still, it made her shiver thinking about it—stepping outside and feeling the plop of water on your skin and watching it melt away like an ice cube.
Instead, the girl and her mother spent the morning at the card table cutting pink, purple, and green egg shapes from construction paper and embellishing them with polka dots and stripes.
On one oval, her mother drew eyes and a pointy little orange beak. Her mother laid the girl’s hands on a piece of yellow paper and traced around them using a pencil. “Watch,” she said as she cut out the handprints and then glued them to the back of one of the ovals.
“It’s a bird,” the girl said with delight.
“An Easter chick,” her mother said. “I made these when I was your age.”
Together, they carefully taped the eggs and chicks and bunny rab-bits they created to the cement walls, giving the dim room a festive, springy look. “There, now we’re ready for the Easter Bunny,” her mother said with triumph.
That night, when the girl climbed into bed, the butterflies in her stomach kept chasing sleep away. “Stay still,” her mother kept re-minding her. “You’ll fall asleep faster.”
The girl didn’t think that was true, but then she opened her eyes, a sliver of bright sunshine was peeking around the shade, and the girl knew that morning had finally arrived.
She leaped from bed to find her mother already at the tiny round table where they ate their meals. “Did he come?” the girl asked, tucking her long brown hair behind her ears.
“Of course he did,” her mother said, holding out a basket woven together from strips of colored paper. It was small, fitting into the palm of the girl’s hand, but sweet. Inside were little bits of green paper that were cut to look like grass. On top of this was a pack of cinnamon gum and two watermelon Jolly Ranchers.
The girl smiled though disappointment surged through her. She’d been hoping for a chocolate bunny or one of those candy eggs that oozed yellow when you broke it open.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Thank the Easter Bunny,” her mother said.
“Thank you, Easter Bunny,” the girl crowed like the child on the candy commercials that she’d seen on television. They both laughed.
They each unwrapped a piece of gum and spent the morning making up stories about the paper chicks and bunnies they made.
When the girl’s gum lost its flavor, and she had slowly licked one of the Jolly Ranchers into a sharp flat disc, the door at the top of the steps opened, and her father came down the stairs toward them. He was carrying a plastic bag and a six-pack of beer. Her mother gave the girl a look. The one that said, go on now, mom and dad need some alone time. Obediently, the girl, taking her Easter basket, went to her spot beneath the window and sat in the narrow beam of warm light that fell across the floor. Facing the wall, she unwrapped another piece of gum and poked it into her mouth and tried to ignore the squeak of the bed and her father’s sighs and grunts.
“You can turn around now,” her mother finally said. The girl sprang up from her spot on the floor.
The girl heard the water running in the bathroom, and her father poked his head out of the door. “Happy Easter,” he said with a grin. “The Easter Bunny wanted me to give you a little something.”
The girl looked at the kitchen table where the plastic bag sat. Then she slid her eyes to her mother, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, rubbing her wrist, eyes red and wet. Her mother nodded.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
Later, after her father climbed the steps and locked the door behind him, the girl went to the table and looked inside the plastic bag. In-side was a chocolate bunny with staring blue eyes. He was holding a carrot and wore a yellow bowtie.
“Go ahead,” her mother told the girl as she held an ice pack to her wrist. “When I was little, I always started with the ears.”
“I don’t think I’m very hungry,” the girl said, returning the box to the table.
“It’s okay,” her mother said gently. “You can eat it. It’s from the Easter Bunny, not your dad.”
The girl considered this. She took a little nibble from the bunny’s ear and sweet chocolate flooded her mouth. She took another bite and then another. She held out the rabbit to her mother and she bit off the remaining ear in one big bite. They laughed and took turns eating until all that was left was the bunny’s chocolate tail.
“Close your eyes and open your mouth,” her mother said. The girl complied and felt her mother place the remaining bit on her tongue and then kiss her on the nose. “Happy Easter,” her mother whispered.

Excerpted from The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf, Copyright © 2022 by Heather Gudenkauf. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

A Proposal in Provence by Donna Alward

A PROPOSAL IN PROVENCE by Donna Alward (on-sale Jan.25, Harlequin Romance)

About the Book:

In Donna Alward’s latest addition to the Heirs to an Empire miniseries, a life-altering secret is revealed. It all started with an escape from scandal…only to be rescued by the tycoon! PR assistant Anemone Jones loves working in Paris for the glamorous Pemberton family…until she discovers she is in fact their half sibling! When the scandal hits the tabloids, it’s her gorgeous boss, Phillippe Leroux, who sweeps her off to his idyllic home in Grasse. Phillippe’s proposal in Provence gives Annie breathing space to process her new life—and even find a place in his.


About The Author:

Donna lives on Canada’s east coast. When she’s not writing she enjoys knitting, gardening, cooking, and is a Masterpiece Theater addict. While her heartwarming stories have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her favorite thing is to hear from readers! Visit her on the web at http://www.donnaalward.com and join her mailing list at http://www.DonnaAlward.com/newsletter.

Where to Buy:


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Proposal-Provence-Heirs-Empire-Book-ebook/dp/B09BD32RF8/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=A+PROPOSAL+IN+PROVENCE+by+Donna+Alward&qid=1637072736&qsid=133-7575147-1798556&sr=8-1&sres=B09BD32RF8&srpt=ABIS_EBOOKS

Excerpt:

She was still working through a mental list when Phillipe turned up a hillside street, slowing as he drove through a residential neighborhood. The homes here were nice—stone houses with tile roofs, olive and palm trees, little gardens. Annie had never seen a palm tree in person in her life. And here she was, in the south of France, so close to the Mediterranean. Sitting in a car with the handsomest man she’d ever known.
Was it wrong that a day that was so very horrible also kind of felt like a dream come true?
“Nous sommes ici,” Phillipe said, and Annie nodded as he turned up a short drive to a welcoming-looking two-story house with wood shutters the color of whiskey barrels.
He turned off the car and let out a big breath.
“Phillipe? Before we go in, I just want to say…thank you. Thank you for caring enough to want to help me. You could have just sent me a warning, but you’re a true friend.”
He took off his seat belt and turned in his seat to face her better. “If I overstep, please tell me. I can be…bossy. Single-minded.”
That didn’t sound like the man she knew, today’s activities excepted. “I will, though I won’t have to. I just want you to know that I appreciate you so much. You have always—” Her throat tightened and she took a moment to swallow, ease the knot that had formed. “You have always treated me with caring and respect.” She gave a small, secretive smile. “Maybe more than I wanted. You’re a good man, Phillipe.”
His gaze held hers and the air in the car filled with the same delicious tension that had shimmered between them last night. But then they both sat back, knowing it would only complicate matters further if they gave in to the attraction they’d done so well ignoring all day.
“Come,” he said softly, giving her the smile she found so devastating. “Meet my parents. Be at home.”
He retrieved their bags from the back seat and then they walked up the stone path together. Phillipe lifted his hand to knock but before he could, the door swung open and a woman stood there, her smile wide, the joy in her eyes unmistakable.
“Vous êtes ici!”
He laughed, put down the bags, and pulled her into his arms.

Christmas at the Château by Rochelle Allers

CHRISTMAS AT THE CHATEAU by Rochelle Alers (on-sale Nov.30, Harlequin Special Edition)

About the Book:

The halls are decked for holiday romance in nationally bestselling author Rochelle Alers’s latest book in the Bainbridge House series! Christmas dinner’s on the table, and it’s being served with a side of romance! Executive chef Viola Williamson has to have the kitchen up and running by the time the Bainbridge House restoration is complete. Working closely with Dom Shaw, Viola is struck by her hotter-than-mulled-cider attraction to her family estate’s handsome caretaker. It’s obvious that he feels it, too—yet Dom keeps his distance. Can Viola convince him that with all this cooking going on, he’s the only one stirring her heart?

My Review:

Christmas at the Château is the second novel I have reviewed by Rochelle Alllers.

It is a slow burn romance at Bainbridge House. Main characters Viola and Dom are not as well fleshed out as I woild have liked but this was a fun book. I was glad to review another novel by Rochelle Allers.

3.5 stars

Thanks to Rochelle Allers and Harlequin for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.


About the Author:

Hailed by readers and booksellers alike as one of today’s most popular African-American authors of women’s fiction, Ms. Alers is a regular on bestsellers list, and has been a recipient of numerous awards, including the Vivian Stephens Award for Excellence in Romance Writing and a Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award. Visit her Web site http://www.rochellealers.com

Where to Buy:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Christmas-Ch%C3%A2teau-Bainbridge-House-Book-ebook/dp/B092R4XS7X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=CHRISTMAS+AT+THE+CHATEAU+by+Rochelle+Alers&qid=1637072828&sr=8-1


Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-at-the-ch-teau-rochelle-alers/1139717185?ean=9781335408259


Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335408259_christmas-at-the-chteau.html

Excerpt:

Dom turned his head, successfully hiding the smile struggling to emerge. He didn’t know why, but he hadn’t expected to overhear the ribald curse that had flowed so effortlessly from Viola. “That’s good to know because that would definitely negate us becoming friends.”
Viola narrowed her eyes, reminding him of a cat ready to attack. “Do you always test your friends?”
“Most times I do.”
“Why, Dom?”
“Because I have trust issues.” The admission had come out unbidden. But if he were completely forthcoming with Viola, then he would’ve said his distrust was with women. It didn’t matter whether they were platonic or intimate, he’d made it a practice to keep their relationships at a distance.
“Bad breakup with a girlfriend?”
“No,” he said truthfully. “It was a marriage that ended with irreconcilable differences.”
She blinked slowly. “Well, you’re not the only one with trust issues. And mine are not with an ex-husband but with the men I’ve dated. They say one thing and do something entirely different.”
This time Dom did smile. She’d just given him the opening he’d needed to discover more about her. “Are you saying you’re not currently involved with anyone?”
“That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m not involved and don’t want to become involved. Right now, my sole focus is getting these kitchens renovated so that I can be ready once the hotel opens for business.”
It appeared as if they were on the same page when it came to relationships. Neither wanted one. And for him, it would make her presence on the property a win-win. Although he’d found Viola attractive, just knowing she didn’t want anything more than friendship would make it easy for Dom to relate to her as a friend.
“Do you have an idea as to what you want to offer your guests?” he asked, deftly changing the topic of conversation.
“That all depends on the clientele. If it’s a wedding, then that would be at the discretion of the bride and groom. However, for guests coming for a business conference, the food would be different from what would be served at a wedding reception. Then there are folks that may just want to stop by to hang out at the lounge for drinks and to watch sports. For them, I would have a special bar menu.”
“It sounds as if you have everything planned out in advance.”
Viola flashed a dreamy smile. “I would have to. I can’t afford to wait until we’re ready to open for business to begin creating menus without taste testing every item beforehand.”
Dom grinned from ear to ear. “I wouldn’t mind becoming one of your taste testers.”
She laughed. “I’ll definitely keep that in mind.”
Dom sobered. “When do you intend to come back here again?”
Viola also sobered. “Why?”

The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan

About the Book:

This Christmas, be whisked away by USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan in this uplifting novel of friendship, the festive season, and risking everything for the biggest gift of all…

Christy and Alix are forever-friends. Not even Alix’s well-meant but badly-timed intervention the night before Christy’s wedding has put a dent in their bond. There’s nothing Alix won’t do for the woman who helped fill the hole in her heart left by her own family’s rejection. But taking Christy’s boisterous little daughter Holly on holiday to Lapland, days before Christmas, is a huge ask. Marketing whizz Alix might know how to turn toys into million-dollar Christmas bestsellers, but the responsibility of parenthood terrifies her. And unfortunately, she’ll have a witness to her ineptitude, in the annoyingly delicious shape of Zac, Holly’s father’s best friend, who will also be there…

Christy had hoped this year would be her dream Christmas, in her dream new family house. Instead, it’s turning into the nightmare before Christmas, with a frightening list of household repairs, no money, and a make-or-break crisis in her marriage. Even worse, it’s a crisis of her own making, and one that is on her shoulders to fix. With best friend Alix coming to the rescue and looking after Holly, Christy will finally have time to focus on rebuilding her relationship.

As Alix confronts her fears and finds unexpected romance under the Northern Lights, and Christy fights to save her marriage, could it be that their Christmas holiday opens their eyes, and their hearts, to what they’ve always wanted?

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction. Her trademark humour and warmth have gained her fans across the globe and three RITA® Awards from the Romance Writers of America. Sarah lives with her family near London, England, where the rain frequently keeps her trapped in her office

Where to Buy:


BookShop.org
Harlequin
Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Books-A-Million
Powell’s

Contact Sarah:


Author Website
Facebook: @AuthorSarahMorgan
Instagram: @sarahmorganwrites
Twitter: @SarahMorgan_
Goodreads

My Review:

The first Sarah Morgan book I bought was Sleigh Bells in the Snow. The second book of hers I have is the ARC of A Wedding in December. I loved them and knew I wanted to get more of Sarah’s novels.

I selected this one from my NetGalley library as I wanted something christmassy and escapist. The Christmas Escape was just that.

The characters were unique and the little girl was cute. Sarah Morgan’s writing style is immersive, and she has a great eye for detail. The novel is feel good yet the relationships are realistically shown.

Thanks to Sarah Morgan and Harlequin for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4.5 stars

Excerpt:

1
Robyn
She hadn’t dared hope that this might happen.
Someone less cynical might have thought of it as a Christmas miracle, but Robyn no longer believed in miracles. She was terrified, but layered under the terror was a seam of something else. Hope. The kaleidoscope of emotions inside her matched the swirl and shimmer of color in the sky. Here in Swedish Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle, the unpolluted skies and clear winter nights made for frequent sightings of the northern lights.
She heard the door open behind her, heard the soft crunch of footsteps on deep snow and then felt Erik’s arms slide around her.
“Come inside. It’s cold.”
“One more minute. I need to think…” She’d always done her best thinking here, in this wild land where nature dominated, where a human felt insignificant beneath the expanse of pink-tinted sky. Everything she’d ever done that was foolish, selfish, risky or embarrassing shrank in importance because this place didn’t care.
Trees bowed under the weight of new snow, the surface glistening with delicate threads of silver and blue. The cold numbed her cheeks and froze her eyelashes, but she noticed only the beauty. Her instinct was to reach for her camera, even though she already had multiple images of the same scene.
She’d come here to escape from everything she was and everything she’d done and had fallen in love with the place and the man. It turned out that you could reinvent yourself if you moved far enough away from everyone who knew you.
Erik pulled the hood of her down jacket farther over her head. “If you’re thinking of the past, then don’t.”
How could she not?
Robyn the rebel.
Her old self felt unfamiliar now. It was like looking at an old photo and not recognizing yourself. Who was that woman?
“I can’t believe she’s coming here. She was three years old when I last saw her.”
Her niece. Her sister’s child.
She remembered a small, smiling cherub with rosy cheeks and curly blond hair. She remembered innocence and acceptance and the fleeting hope of a fresh start, before Robyn had ruined it, the way she’d ruined everything back then.
Her sister had forbidden her to ever make contact again. There had been no room for Robyn in her sister’s perfect little family unit. Even now, many years later, remembering that last encounter still made her feel shaky and sick. She tried to imagine the child as a woman. Was she like her mother? Whenever Robyn thought about her sister, her feelings became confused.
Love. Hate. Envy. Irritation. She hadn’t known it was possible to feel every possible emotion within a single relationship. Elizabeth had been the golden girl. The perfect princess and, for a little while at least, her best friend in the world.
Time had eased the pain from agony to ache.
All links had been broken, until that email had arrived.
“Why did she get in touch now, after so long? She’s thirty. Grown.”
Part of her wanted to celebrate, but life had taught her to be cautious, and she knew this wasn’t a simple reunion. What if her niece was looking for answers? And what if she didn’t like what she heard?
Was this a second chance, or another emotional car crash?
“You can ask her. Face-to-face,” Erik said, “but I know you’re nervous.”
“Yes.” She had no secrets from him, although it had taken her a while to reach the point where she’d trusted their relationship not to snap. “She’s a stranger. The only living member of my family.”
Her sister was gone, killed instantly two years earlier while crossing the road. There was no fixing the past now. That door was closed.
Erik tightened his hold on her. “Your niece has a daughter, remember? That’s two family members. Three if you count her husband.”
Family. She’d had to learn to live without it.
She’d stayed away, as ordered. Made no contact. Rebuilt her life. Redesigned herself. Buried the past and traveled as far from her old life as she could. In the city she’d often felt trapped. Suffocated by the past. Here, in this snowy wilderness with nature on her doorstep, she felt free.
And then the past had landed in her in-box.

I’m Christy, your niece.

“Was it a mistake to ask her here?” It was the first time she’d invited the past into the present. “Apart from the fact we don’t know each other, do you think she’ll like this place?” For her it had been love at first sight. The stillness. The swirl of blue-green color in the sky, and the soft light that washed across the landscape at this time of year. As a photographer, the light was an endless source of fascination and inspiration. There were shades and tones she’d never seen anywhere else in the world. Midnight blue and bright jade. Icy pink and warm rose.
Some said the life up here was harsh and hard, but Robyn had known hard, and this wasn’t it. Cold wasn’t only a measure of temperature, it was a feeling. And she’d been cold. The kind of cold that froze you inside and couldn’t be fixed with thermal layers and a down jacket.
And then there was warmth, of the kind she felt now with Erik.
“Christmas in Lapland?” He sounded amused. “How can she not like it? Particularly as she has a child. Where else can she play in the snow, feed reindeer and ride on a sled through the forest?”
Robyn gazed at the trees. It was true that this was paradise for a Christmas-loving child, although that wasn’t the focus of the business. She had little experience with children and had never felt the desire to have her own. Her family was Erik. The dogs. The forest. The skies. This brilliant, brutal wilderness that felt more like home than any place she’d lived.
The main lodge had been handed down through generations of Erik’s family, but he’d expanded it to appeal to the upper end of the market. Their guests were usually discerning
travelers seeking to escape. Adventurous types who appreciated luxury but were undaunted by the prospect of heading into the frozen forest or exploring the landscape on skis or snowshoes. Erik offered his services as a guide when needed, and she, as a photographer, was on hand to coach people through the intricacies of capturing the aurora on camera. You couldn’t predict it, so she’d learned patience. She’d learned to wait until nature gave her what she was hoping for.
Through the snowy branches she could see the soft glow of lights from two of their cabins, nestled in the forest. They were five in total, each named after Arctic wildlife. Wolf, Reindeer, Elk, Lynx and Bear. Each cozy cabin had floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a breathtaking view of the forest and the sky. The Snow Spa had been her idea and proved a popular addition. The focus here was wellness, with an emphasis on the nature that surrounded them. She and her small team used local resources whenever they could. Guests were encouraged to leave phones and watches behind.
Erik was right. It was the perfect escape. The question she should have asked wasn’t Will she like it here? but Will she like me?
She felt a moment of panic. “The last time I saw Christy—well, it wasn’t good.” The kitten incident. The memory of that visit was carved into her soul. Despite all her good intentions, it had gone badly wrong. “What age do children start remembering? Will she remember what happened?” She hoped not. Even now, so many years later, she could still remember the last words her sister had spoken to her.
You ruin everything. I don’t want you in my life.
Robyn pressed closer to Erik and felt his arms tighten.
“It was a long time ago, Robyn. Ancient history.”
“But people don’t forget history, do they?” What had her sister told her daughter?
Robyn the rebel.
She wondered what her sister would say if she could see her now. Happy. Married to a man she loved. Living in one place. Earning a good living, although no doubt Elizabeth would see it as unconventional.
Christy, it seemed, was happily married and living an idyllic life in the country, as her mother had before her.
What would Elizabeth say if she knew her daughter was coming to visit?
Robyn gave a shiver and turned back toward the lodge.
Elizabeth wouldn’t have been happy, and if she could have stopped it, she would have done so. She wouldn’t have wanted her sister to contaminate her daughter’s perfect life.

Excerpted from The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan. Copyright © 2021 by Sarah Morgan. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Harlequin Investigator Winter Blog Tour: Little Girl Gone by Amanda Stevens

LITTLE GIRL GONE by Amanda Stevens (on-sale Dec.28, Harlequin Intrigue):

About the Book:

Nothing matters more to her when a child’s life is at stake. Special agent Thea Lamb returns to her hometown to search for a child whose disappearance echoes a twenty-eight-year-old cold case—her twin sister’s abduction. Working with her former partner, Jake Stillwell, Thea must overcome the pain, doubt and guilt that have tormented her for years and denied her a meaningful relationship. For both Thea and Jake, the job always came first…until now.  

About the Author:

Amanda Stevens is an award-winning author of over fifty novels. Born and raised in the rural south, she now resides in Houston, Texas.

My Review:

When Thea Lamb returns to her hometown, her task is eerily similar to her twin sister’s abduction 28 years earlier. She and her partner Jake Stillwell must work together. 

What really happened? 

Will things pass the professional boundary between Thea and Jake?

I was hooked by the title and the fact that the story involved twins. I choose many books with twins in them as I was a twin. 

The writing was quick paced but I did find some parts of the book too slow and was struggling to remain interested. 

I could identify with Thea’s realistically portrayed personal reason for wanting to solve the crime, but other than that I found her and Jake hard to connect with.

Thanks to Amanda Stevens and Harlequin Intrigue for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

3 stars

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335489357 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Little-Girl-Procedural-Crime-Story-ebook/dp/B09798Q8BQ/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=LITTLE+GIRL+GONE+by+Amanda+Stevens&qid=1637001796&qsid=133-7575147-1798556&sr=8-1&sres=B09798Q8BQ%2CB003KVL35W%2C1250209765%2C1250132363%2C1250153964&srpt=ABIS_EBOOKS


Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/little-girl-gone-amanda-stevens/1139689805?ean=9781335489357
Harlequin.com: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335555557_little-girl-gone.html

Excerpt:

“While I was trying to fish the doll out of the pool, someone came from behind and hit me over the head hard enough to daze me. Next thing I know, I’m caught in a whirlpool several feet below the surface. I lost my flashlight, so I was spun around underwater in complete darkness. No up, no down.” He paused. “For a while there, I wasn’t sure how I’d get out.”
Thea watched his expression as he spoke. He still seemed shaken from the experience. She’d never seen him like that. “I knew something bad must have happened.”
He summoned a brief smile. “I know what you’re thinking. I even thought so myself at the time. So much for my keen instincts. Someone came up behind me and I never sensed a thing.”
“That’s not what I’m thinking.”
“No?”
“I’m thinking you could have died down there and I would never have known what happened to you.”
“Thea.” He said her name so softly she might have thought the tender missive was nothing more than a breeze sighing through the treetops.
The sun bearing down on them was hot and relentless, but Thea felt a little shiver go through her. It hit her anew how much she’d missed that tender glint in his eyes as their gazes locked. How much she’d missed his husky whispers in the dark. The glide of his hand along her bare skin, the tease of his lips and tongue against her mouth. The way he had held her afterward, as if he never wanted to let her go. But he had let her go and she’d done nothing to stop him.
She drew a shaky breath. “Don’t ever do that to me again.”
“Get caught in a whirlpool? I’ll do my best.”
She scowled at him. “Don’t make light. You know what I mean.”
“I’m fine, Thea.” He seemed on the verge of saying something else, but he held back. Maybe he thought she wanted his restraint. She did, didn’t she? They were in a precarious situation. Adrenaline and attraction could be a dangerous combination. Throw in unresolved issues and they were asking for trouble.

It all Comes Back to You by Beth Duke @bethidee @onlythebethforyou @ZooloosBT #ItAllComesBackToYou #ZooloosBookTours


About the Book:

Alabama, 1947.

War’s over, cherry-print dresses, parking above the city lights, swing dancing.

Beautiful, seventeen-year-old Violet lives in a perfect world.
Everybody loves her.

In 2012, she’s still beautiful, charming, and surrounded by admirers.

Veronica “Ronni” Johnson, licensed practical nurse and aspiring writer, meets the captivating Violet in the assisted living facility where Violet requires no assistance, just lots of male attention. When she dies, she leaves Ronni a very generous bequest―only if Ronni completes a book about her life within one year. As she’s drawn into the world of young Violet, Ronni is mesmerized by life in a simpler time. It’s an irresistible journey filled with revelations, some of them about men Ronni knew as octogenarians at Fairfield Springs.

Struggling, insecure, flailing at the keyboard, Ronni juggles her patients, a new boyfriend, and a Samsonite factory of emotional baggage as she tries to craft a manuscript before her deadline.

But then the secrets start to emerge, some of them in person. And they don’t stop.

Everything changes.

About the Author:

Beth Dial Duke is an Amazon #1 Best Selling author and the recipient of short story awards on two continents.
She is eyeing the other five.
Beth lives in the mountains of her native Alabama with her husband, one real dog, and one ornamental dog.
She loves reading, writing, and not arithmetic.
Baking is a hobby, with semi-pro cupcakes and amateur macarons a specialty.
And puns–the worse, the better.
Travel is her other favorite thing, along with joining book groups for discussion. If a personal visit isn’t possible, she is fluent in Zoom.
Please visit bethduke.com for more information, to request a book club visit, and to see photos of the most beautiful readers in the world!

Follow Beth:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5399106.Beth_Duke
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/onlythebethforyou/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bethidee
Website : bethduke.com
Twitter : https://twitter.com/bethidee

Where to Buy:

Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Comes-Back-You-Recommendation-ebook/dp/B07GVN38FX
Amazon US : https://www.amazon.com/All-Comes-Back-You-Recommendation-ebook/dp/B07GVN38FX

My Review:

Violet lives in an assisted living facility where she requires no assistance. She just wants a man.
When she dies, Veronica, or “Ronni,” a nurse there, is left a bequest by Violet. The catch? Veronica must write a book about Violet’s life in a year. Can she do this?

I loved the idea of this challenge The characters are quirky and the setting is very well thought out in two timelines (1947 and 2012).

A quirky and original book.

Thanks to Beth Duke and Zooloo’s Blog Tours for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars.