Blog Tour: Cowboy Valentine by Mia Hopkins

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for Cowboy Valentine by Mia Hopkins. I’ll share my review of this book with you and there’s a tour wide giveaway!

CowboyValentine_300finalTitle: Cowboy Valentine
Author: Mia Hopkins
Series: standalone
Rating: 3.75 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance

Forget chocolate and flowers. This homegrown honey is all the sweetness he craves.

Small-town life is nothing but a waiting room for eighteen-year-old honor student Corazón Gomez. Work and school leave little time for love, but with a full-ride Ivy League scholarship and a one-way ticket out of the boondocks, who needs it?

The answer appears on Valentine’s Day when her old cowboy crush ambles into the ice cream parlor where she works, inviting her to go on a late-night ride in his truck. For the first time she wavers between staying on the straight and narrow, and going off-road with the handsome heartbreaker.

After four years working on ranches all over the country, Caleb MacKinnon is back on the family farm helping out his mom and brothers while his father fights cancer. The one bright spot: smart, funny, and wickedly sexy Cora.

From the start, they both know this blazing-hot love affair can’t last. But when autumn comes and Cora has to leave for the East Coast, Caleb must find a solution to keep himself—and his heart—from falling apart.

Warning: Contains hard, cherry-poppin’ sex in a pickup truck and a cowboy charmer who talks dirty in two languages.


My Review:
This was a short, sexy read and it will appeal to readers who enjoy the NA genre.

Cora is an intelligent, driven young women with a defined career path in mind. To date, she’s had no time for boys, but all that changes when her old high-school crush, Caleb, walks back into her life. Cue lots of fun, sexy times, and then inevitable heartbreak.

I didn’t realize that this was a novella-length story because, in most cases, I find stand-alone books of this size too short to feel a real emotional connection with the characters. I love novellas and shorts when they are part of a series as they usually add an extra dimension or much-needed back-story.

While I definitely enjoyed reading Cowboy Valentine, and it’s very well written, it lacked substance and depth. We don’t get to see Cora and Caleb’s relationship develop as we skip from first meeting to six months later and then six months after that. We never got to see them go out on dates, it’s just all about the sex. I would have liked more ‘story’ to the story.

I would have liked to see the cultural differences sub-plot adding some conflict to the development of their relationship. This was hinted at, but no more. Personally, I believe this to be a missed opportunity.

That said, I did like both main characters even if I couldn’t fully understand what drew them to each other. And I love this author’s writing style; her prose is beautiful, and I can definitely see myself checking out her future work. I’m wondering if Caleb’s brothers will feature in future books?

If you are looking for a fun, quick read then I would recommend Cowboy Valentine, and it easily holds its own against other similar sized NA titles.

Actual Rating: 3.75 Stars


HEADSHOTAbout the Author:
Mia Hopkins writes lush romances starring fun, sexy characters who love to get down and dirty. She’s a sucker for working class heroes, brainy heroines and wisecracking best friends.

When she’s not lost in a story, Mia spends her time cooking, gardening, traveling, volunteering and looking for her keys. In a past life, she was a classroom teacher and still has a pretty good “teacher voice” and “teacher stare.” She lives in the heart of Los Angeles with her roguish husband and two waggish dogs.


There’s a tour wide giveaway, enter the raffleocpter below for a chance to win:
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Blog Tour: Tough Love by Lori Foster

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I am so happy to be part of the blog tour for Tough Love By Lori Foster. I’ll share my review with you today and an excerpt from the book. There’s also a tour wide giveaway.

Book 2_Tough Love by Lori Foster_coverTitle: Tough Love
Author: Lori Foster
Series: Ultimate #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance/ Sports Romance

She’s playing hard to get… to win the MMA fighter of her ultimate fantasies in a sultry new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster…

Vanity Baker loves a good, clean match, but she’s not above playing a little dirty. She’s wanted Stack “The Wolf” Hannigan from day one. Seems as though the best way to corral the famously commitment-phobic fighter is to insist on keeping it casual. And her plan works—deliciously well—until Stack’s past steps out of the shadows.

Stack learned early to stay free of attachments. But with sexy, forthright Vanity, he’s the one always left wanting more. Then his troublemaking family comes back into the picture, threatening everything Stack cares about—Vanity included. Suddenly he realizes they’re much more than friends with benefits. He’s ready to go to the mat for her…but will it be in time to protect the woman who’s tamed him for good?

My Review:
This was a great read and I adored the world-building and thoroughly entertaining characters.

Vanity has it bad for Stack, but he’s notoriously commitment-phobic, so she comes up with a grand plan to seduce him and hook him for life. And it succeeds fabulously until he becomes aware of some cards she was holding close to her chest, and then it kind-of falls apart.

I loved Stack’s mad dysfunctional family and the network of MMA fighters he surrounds himself with. One of the things I especially liked was the close male friendships that Vanity has developed with some of the fighters. It’s a refreshing change and one I could relate to. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I had way more male friends than female friends. Though my mom will tell you they were all in love with me (that’s Moms for you) I never thought that, and I totally believe it’s possible to have platonic relationships with guys. Most books dispute that notion so I liked that we got to see a different side of it in Tough Love. That’s not to say that Leese didn’t admit to an attraction to Vanity, because he did, but the fact is he was a great friend to her and I loved that.

I struggled a little with the first 10/15% of this book – I felt it dragged a little and that some of the dialog between Stack and Vanity was a little stiff and unnatural. Thankfully, those concerns melted away after that. I also struggled to reconcile Vanity’s behaviour regarding her financial position. It didn’t feel natural that she would tell Stack’s family about her wealth in such an open way. To me, it would have been way more natural for her to be cagey about it. Anyway, it’s a relatively minor complaint and it didn’t deny my enjoyment of this book.

I’m interested in Yvette and Cannon’s story and I’m definitely going to read that book. I also can’t wait to read about Armie and Merissa, and Leese’s story when it releases. I warmed to all the guys in this book and they were all intriguing in their own unique way.

The writing style is decent, and while it didn’t blow me away, it’s solidly written and very well edited.

In summary, this was a great book and I look forward to reading more of this series.

I received an ARC of this book via the publisher and Inkslinger PR in exchange for my honest review.

Tough Love Available Now

The breath she held came out in a gasp as he pulled her against him, locked an arm around her waist and took her mouth with hot, incredible greed.
Whoa. And here she thought she’d been on the ragged edge.
He was so much bigger than her in every way, he made her feel tiny and feminine and fragile. In all other situations her independent soul might have rebelled, but not now. Not with Stack. She trusted him one hundred percent, and wanted him even more than that.
Flattening her hands on his chest, she smoothed over the solid wall of his pecs, up to those rock-solid shoulders. Heat poured off him, and—oh God—he smelled so good. With his big hands opened on her, his mouth eating at hers, she forgot… everything.
The music and the conversation of other guests faded away. She tunneled her fingers into his hair and tried to get closer still.
Someone bumped into them; Stack didn’t stop kissing her. If anything, his tongue became bolder, exploring, tasting.
Laughter, probably from his friends, sounded nearby, and still he didn’t stop. He gathered her closer.
Jarred back to the here and now, Vanity pressed against him. A true gentleman, Stack immediately eased up.
Her lips tingled. Shoot, her whole body tingled. She drew in a shaky breath. “Wow.”
Proving he hadn’t, in fact, forgotten they stood in the middle of the floor at a friend’s wedding, he whispered against her lips, “Let me get you someplace private.” A softer kiss of persuasion. “I’ll give you reason to be wowed.”
Such a tempting promise.
Oh, how she wanted to haul him to the nearest quiet closet. But that would be dumb. What she wanted, what she hoped he ultimately wanted, would require hours, not a few frenzied minutes.
Voice filled with regret, Vanity explained, “I can’t go just yet.”
His rough growl proved his impatience.
“Very soon, I promise.” Adjusting their embrace, her arms around his neck, his hands at her waist, she put some space between them. “Let’s dance while you cool down and I—”
“Dream on.” But he eased his hold and fell into step with her. Gaze burning over her, then lingering on her cleavage, he asked, “How much longer do I have to wait?”
Vanity didn’t pretend confusion; she knew exactly what he meant, exactly what he wanted. “One dance. Then I need to get the bouquet out of the fridge and gather up some presents and—”
He groaned again, prompting Vanity to laugh.
“Let’s talk.” Maybe casual conversation would help cool his jets and give her a needed opportunity to regroup.
“Okay.” He leaned in. “I can’t wait to taste you—all over.”
All over?
“And to get you under me. Or over me. Your preference.”
“Stack.” Her shaky voice sounded weak. “Let’s talk about something that isn’t provoking.”
“Like what? Because honest to god, darlin’, after weeks of your verbal foreplay, I’m feeling pretty damned provoked.”
The smile came slowly. Teasing Stack was a true pleasure.

Tough Love promo

Tough Love is part of the Ultimate series.

The full series includes the following stories:
– Hard Knocks (Ultimate #0.5)
– No Limits (Ultimate #1)
– Holding Strong (Ultimate #2)
– Tough Love (Ultimate #3)
– Fighting Dirty (Ultimate #4)


Don’t miss the earlier books in the Ultimate Series!
Hard Knocks (Ultimate #0.5)
No Limits (Ultimate #1)
Holding Strong (Ultimate #2)

Lori - Dec 2014About the Author:
Since first publishing in January 1996, Lori Foster has become a USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author. Lori has published through a variety of houses, including Kensington, St. Martin’s, Harlequin, Silhouette, Samhain, and Berkley/Jove. She is currently published with HQN.

Lori hosts a very special annual “Reader & Author” event in West Chester, Ohio. Proceeds from the event have benefited many worthy causes, including the Hamilton County YWCA Battered Women’s Shelter, the Animal Adoption Foundation, The Conductive Learning Center for children with spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and The One Way Farm, Children’s Home.

Each year Lori donates all proceeds from one book to charity. You can see the benefit romance books here:


And there’s a tour wide giveaway! Enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win:
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Review: Frigid (Frigid #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

FrigidTitle: Frigid
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Frigid #1
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance

For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn’t anything new. They’d been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the ‘man’ in man-whore. He’s never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn’t want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she’s perfect and she’s everything. But the feelings he has for her, he’s always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they’re stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor’easter, there’s nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

My Review:
4.5 Stars.

This was quite a short read, but an enthralling one all the same. Ordinarily I don’t like contemporary romance unless there’s other key sub-plots behind it. There was a little drama/suspense in this book but primarily it centers on the relationship between Sydney (Syd) and Kyler. I’m therefore impressed that Jennifer managed to write a book like this that hooked me in quickly and kept my attention the full way through.

Kyler and Sydney have been BFF’s since they were kids. Both of them harbor romantic feelings for the other but neither has been brave enough to broach the subject, for fear of ruining their friendship. That is a very believable story line and I could completely relate to both characters as they reacted in different ways to things that happened between them.

Kyler is described as a ‘man-whore’ and it’s a very unlike-able trait. I started off hating him but he quickly won me over. At times I was reminded a little of Christian Gray. That I still loved him is down to Jennifer’s ability to create totally swoon-worthy guys that you just can’t help falling for. His sweet protectiveness of Syd also won him additional points.

All in all, another great read from JLA.

Release Week Blitz: Consumed by You (Fighting Fire #3) by Lauren Blakely

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I am thrilled to bring you the Release Week Blitz for Lauren Blakely’s Consumed by You! Consumed by You is the third standalone novel from Lauren’s New York Times bestselling Romance Series, Fighting Fire! This passionate, high-heat fireman romance series is a three-book series about sexy fireman and the women they love and is being published through Entangled Brazen. Lauren Blakely is well known for writing sexy, heartfelt and humorous contemporary romance as well as deeply emotional new adult stories –one commonality in all her books is the scorching hot sexy times. And Consumed by You is absolutely no different! Consumed by You is the next book in the red-hot Fighting Fire Series and is Travis and Cara’s sexy love story.

CbY_500_NEW (1)Title:Consumed by You
Author: Lauren Blakely
Series: Fighting Fire #3
Genres: Contemporary Romance

A sexy romance from Entangled’s Brazen imprint…

She’s playing with fire…

Dog trainer Cara Bailey wants to find “the one,” but fantasizing about her sexy-as-hell client, firefighter Travis Jansen, is getting in the way. Her only option? Get the confirmed bachelor out of her system-in every position possible-so she can settle down with Mr. Right. Starting right now.

Travis doesn’t do relationships, so no matter how badly he wants the pretty little brunette, he keeps his distance. Until Cara goes and changes the game. She’ll fulfill all of his fantasies if he agrees to walk away when it’s over. But when the wildfire between them blazes out of control, it will consume everything-and everyone-in its path….

Consumed by You is a full-length, standalone romance novel that follows Travis and Cara’s scorching story.

CBY Teaser 1
Praise for Consumed by You:

A seductive tale of bets and propositions that will ignite your senses and warm your heart.” – Patricia at A Literary Perusal

“This book was amazing!! Cara and Travis are awesome together! They can go from friendly joking to smoldering lovers in the blink of an eye. A 5-Star Read!” – Book Lovers Obsession

“I totally loved Consumed by You. It was an amazing book about second chances, about finding and fighting for what you want in life, about sexy deals and, of course, about how easy is to fall in love with a firefighter as awesome as Travis Jansen, my new addition to the book boyfriend collection.” – Angelica at Collector of Book Boyfriends

The intensity that flows between Travis and Cara not only consumes them, but the reader as well.” – Liz’s Reading Life


And don’t miss the first two titles in the Fighting Fire series!
Burn for Me by Lauren Blakely
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Melt for Him by Lauren Blakely
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Author PhotoAbout Lauren Blakely:
Lauren Blakely writes sexy contemporary romance novels with heat, heart, and humor, and she has had eight books on the New York Times Bestseller list and thirteen on the USA Today Bestseller list. Like the heroine in her novel, FAR TOO TEMPTING, she thinks life should be filled with family, laughter, and the kind of love that love songs promise. Lauren lives in California with her husband, children, and dogs. She loves hearing from readers! Her bestselling series include Sinful Nights, Seductive Nights, No Regrets, Caught Up in Love, and Fighting Fire. She recently released SWEET SINFUL NIGHTS, the first novel in her new sexy romance series Sinful Nights that became an instant New York Times Bestseller. Her new adult forbidden romance, 21 Stolen Kisses, hit e-readers in May and landed on the USA Today Bestseller list. This summer she’ll release Consumed by You, her next title in her NYT Bestselling Fighting Fire series about sexy firemen and the women they love. She also writes for young adults under the name Daisy Whitney. To receive an email when Lauren releases a new book, text BLAKELY + your email address to 678-249-3375 (please use the actual + sign).

And there’s a giveaway with this tour, for a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Review: Beautiful Bedlam (Beautiful Bedlam #1) by Ali Harper

Beautifull BedlamTitle: Beautiful Bedlam
Author: Ali Harper
Series: Beautiful Bedlam #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance

Sixteen-year-old Sienna Rivers has it all, the looks, the smarts, oh and the dysfunctional family from hell, a distorted mind of epic proportions coupled with the return of a childhood sweetheart bad boy Logan Jackson with his smoldering dark eyes, tousled hair, leather jackets and cherry red Mustang, her life suddenly got a lot more complicated.

Before the start of her junior year of high school, Sienna’s greatest problems were studying for the SAT’s and trying to watch Game of Thrones alone in her room without her mother walking in unannounced thinking she was watching some form of adult entertainment.

Now that Logan is back in their small town of Haven Falls, she has to face heartbreak and falling in an all-consuming love for the first time whilst simultaneously dealing with her strange hallucinations, her parents’ crumbling marriage, family secrets crawling out from under the woodwork and her mother’s growing alcohol abuse problem, and of course deciding what dress to wear to her first ever high school dance.

Falling in love had never been so insane.

“He was stunning, striking, charismatic, extroverted, grand and greater than life, every guy wanted to be him and all the girls wanted to be with him. He was the spark, twinkle and gleam of the stars and she was merely the contrasting dark night sky behind that allowed him to shine.”

“She’s everything right in this world, she’s kind, and funny and so beautifully insanely weird and she just gets it. She gets me.”

My Review:
Beautiful Bedlam is in the main a romance story, with elements of suspense, family drama, betrayal, intrigue and a hint at some paranormal twists.

Sienna is like-able if a bit naive at times. Her family life is very dysfunctional, and her best friend betrays her in the worst possible way. Sienna has been pining for Logan Jackson since he upped and left very mysteriously a couple of years previously. As soon as he reappears, she gets sucked back into his life, and falls for him all over again.

Logan was definitely rocking the whole bad-boy vibe, but I’m a total sucker for these type of fictional boyfriends, so I loved him (sad to admit I know). Noah was just too sickly-sweet, no contest if you’re Sienna.

Ali Harper writes beautifully in the main, though I was a little confused in parts at some unclear scene and POV changes.

It’s a very quick, easy read and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next for Logan and Sienna, especially now they’re properly together. I’m also keen to see how the author develops the paranormal theme throughout the rest of the series.


“Sienna Rivers, ex-nerd, undisputed reigning chess champion of the class of ’09 and the proverbial all around wise-ass degenerate pain in your backside.”

“Be careful. He uses that line on all the girls.”

“All clichés aside, sometimes a girl needed to cry in the rain.”

“Meet Logan Jackson, smug, self-entitled, proud, arrogant, trust-fund brat.”

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

I engaged in a R4R swap in exchange for my honest review.

Blog Tour: Just a Kiss by Kate Kisset

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Today is my stop during the blog tour for Just a Kiss. I’ll share my review with you and there’s a tour wide givaway.

JustaKisseBook-1Title:Just a Kiss
Author: Kate Kisset
Series: A Wine Country Romance Series #1
Rating: 3 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance

One Wine Country Villa
Six Santino Brothers
And lots of wine…

Reeling from the loss of her mother, Sarah Dupont catches her fiancé doing the nasty on top of her pastry table at their San Francisco Bakery.

Devastated, she calls her best friend, lifestyle reporter, Danica Vargas. Danica convinces Sarah to start fresh, and rent a room with her at an historic mansion in Sonoma Valley.

With two roommates who act like the sisters she never had and a feisty landlord to stand in as the grandmother she always wanted, Sarah’s opens a café on the Sonoma Plaza. Her life changes the moment the little bell on the door rings and the notoriously sexy actor Jamie Santino, swaggers in.

Jamie, one of the six Santino Brothers, of Napa Valley Winery fame, needs baking lessons for his new movie and Sarah is just the woman to teach him.
Wine flows, their love affair heats up and a tempestuous femme fatale enters the scene.

How can Sarah trust that Jamie isn’t acting when everything he says seems too good to be true?

My Review:
Sarah’s whole life has been falling apart at the seams thanks to a heartless ex-fiance who betrayed her in every way possible. Broke and alone, she moves to be with her friend Danica and sets about rebuilding her life.

Jamie Santino’s film career has been in the doldrums thanks to a disastrous ex who manipulated his feelings to further her own career. He now has the chance to turn things around, but he needs Sarah’s help. Sarah reluctantly agrees to allow him conduct some ‘research’ in her cafe and thus our story begins.

While I liked this book, I didn’t love it.

The writing is decent and the style consistent with other books of this genre. Certainly, Kate Kisset shows enormous promise as a writer. The pacing is good and the story flows without any need to skim. There is a decent amount of descriptive text without it being overbearing. I loved the addition of the girls wine club, the Santino winery, and all the wine-related references (not that I’m a lush or anything, you understand.)

However, this book is too short, and both plot and character development suffered as a result. It was hard to feel an emotional attachment to either Sarah or Jamie, and I didn’t feel a connection to them as a couple. At times, the dialogue was really witty, and at other times it was stiff, unnatural, or downright cringy.

This book has the potential to be better with stronger developmental editing. I’ve recently read a couple of other books with the same issues and it’s quite frustrating, especially when the author clearly has talent.

If you are looking for a light, quick, summer read then you’ll most likely enjoy this book.

Thanks to Inkslinger PR and the author for providing me with a review copy of this book in exhange for my honest review.

Help me get a grip, I’m melting into her eyes… He took a beat to compose himself.
“What would you like me to do Sarah?” he asked.
She moved closer and parted her lips.
I’m going, going…
“I think I’d like you to kiss me now.”
On tiptoe and cradling the back of his head, she guided him to her.
No one could surprise him in the love department except Sarah Dupont. He skimmed his hands over the outline of her soft curves and pulled her in tighter. She tasted like cabernet and cake, and he closed his eyes so he could savor her lips.
A low moan escaped her, and hit him in the gut. He didn’t know where to start with his hands and moved them over the sexy arch of her back and pressed her closer to him.
“The tree,” he said quickly, not wanting to be away from her mouth. “Does the tree hurt your back?”
“Don’t stop kissing me,” she said. The need in Sarah’s voice surprised him, making him strain against his jeans. He fought to slow down, to wait, to catch a breath before he lost it.
He swept his lips across her cheek. “Sarah.” When he reached her earlobe, he nipped. She felt luscious and pliable in his arms. He almost couldn’t handle listening to her quick breaths and the feeling of her heart pumping so fast against him.
“Sarah.” He nuzzled behind her ear, kissing and sucking her neck. “Don’t make me stop.”
She groaned between breaths.
He felt drunk, but he’d had only had a few glasses of wine. Touching, kissing and listening to her whimpers made him feel like he could tip over any minute and bury himself into her.

HeadshotKateKissetLGFile.About the Author:
Former San Francisco Radio Disc Jockey Kate Kisset has a passion for telling great stories. After playing thousands of Hot AC, Country, Rock and Oldies tunes, for her primarily female fan base, she changed her tune and became an author.

Just a Kiss is the first book in her wine country romance series, The Single Girls Wine Club.

She lives in Northern California and Santa Barbara with her family and rescue pup “editor” Luciana Parmigiana, where she hikes, reads, listens to music, and drinks wine.


There is a tour wide giveaway, which you can enter below:
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Cover Reveal: Summer Haikus by SJ Pajonas

Today is the cover reveal for Summer Haikus by SJ Pajonas. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.

Summer Haikus
Summer Haikus (Happily Ever Asia)
by SJ Pajonas
Genre: Contemporary Romance/ Multicultural Romance
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: August 6, 2015

“When it comes to fight or flight, I always choose to run like hell.”

Isa planned the perfect summer:
Tokyo and the Summer Olympics — check.
Helping her best friend prepare for the marathon — check.
Forgetting she’s in love with Masa — double check.

But when Isa’s mother is hospitalized, she has to abandon her summer plans to run the family’s Tokyo business. Masa’s offer to help makes it impossible for Isa to ignore him — and the firecracker kiss they shared half a world away. Everyone expects the world of her, but the pressure to please them all is as oppressive as the Tokyo summer heat. The simplest answer to all her problems? Run.

You can find Summer Haikus on Goodreads

I walk out onto the front lawn and take another deep breath. It’s a beautiful night in East Lansing. The sky is clear, stars twinkling, and an almost full moon hangs not far above the tree line. I took an Astronomy 101 class last fall, and I’ve been in love with the stars ever since. When I was still trying to decide on my major, I considered astronomy. I thought maybe I was destined to study the stars, what with Halley being named after a famous astronomer and my love of nighttime, but I don’t want to do that for a living, just like I don’t want to be an engineer either. I breathe deep one more time, and the fresh air sobers me a little, so I reach into my pocket for my phone and text Halley.
“Masa showed up and I had to run. Can’t do that. Heading home. Check on me in 30,” I type and wait for her reply while watching the masses of people walking the streets. This is the last chance to party before summer tears groups apart. I wonder if I can walk back to my dorm with someone else.
My phone buzzes in my hand. “Ok. Promise. Sorry about Masa.”
“Whatever,” I say at my phone.
“Isa! Wait up!” I freeze before slowly turning back to the house. Masa comes bounding out the front door, running up to me. “Let me walk you home. You’ve had too much to drink.”
“It’s okay.” I wave at him and turn to go. “I’m sure I can find someone to walk me who’s already going that way.”
“No, please,” he says, lunging forward and grabbing for me. “I want to make sure you make it home all right.” The heat of his hand on my arm stops my breathing. I would give anything to slip my hand into his and walk home with him by my side. I catch my breath in a gasp, and he lets go, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“Fine. Let’s go.” I walk in front of him for a bit, texting Halley again. “Couldn’t ditch Masa. He’s walking me home,” I type to her.
“Good,” she replies and adds in a kissing smiley face. There are days when I want to strangle her.
Masa eventually walks beside me and holds my waist when I trip over cracks in the pavement. I twist away from him and put a few inches between us to steady my beating heart.
He clears his throat. “So, have you heard any more about the apartment you’re staying in in Tokyo?”
“Yeah, it’s in Akasaka. Your dad’s apartment is there, right?”
“Yep. Akasaka is a business district and close to Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, and the Imperial Palace. You’ll love it.”
A warm breeze blows my hair into my face, so I tuck it behind my ears. I went easy on my hair today, letting it be wavy instead of straightening it, but I took the time to put on makeup and even eyeliner. I’m getting better at the cat eye, thanks to the beauty vlogs I follow.
“I’ve mapped out ten running routes for when we get there. I want to make sure she’s acclimatized before the Games start. I have three routes with hills, three flat ones, and four combinations. I think it’s enough. I hope it’s enough. Maybe I should make more.”
“I’m sure it’s fine, Isa. It’s probably overkill already.”
“You’re right, of course. You’re always right.”
“I can’t believe you’re still watching Lost,” Masa says, laughing, as I weave around a group of people walking against us on the sidewalk.
“I never watched it the first time around, and we already watched Battlestar Galactica and Breaking Bad together this year.”
Masa tips his head and stares at the ground. “I miss those Friday nights already.”
These statements are the confusing part of my relationship with Masa. He seems to enjoy spending time with me, and we’ve even slept in the same bed with each other before, but he’s never once shown any romantic interest in me.
What if I told him how I feel? The timing is perfect, right before the summer. If he feels the same way, I can convince him to come to Tokyo with me. We’d figure things out together while exploring the city and attending the Olympics. I smile, imagining the two of us doing all the things I planned together instead of me doing them alone.
“What are you smiling about?” Masa asks, as we cross over Harrison and Michigan Ave. Only a few more minutes till home.
I wipe the stupid smile off my face and frown. “Nothing.” I lengthen my stride until I’m right outside my dorm. The parking lot is quiet, and it’s still early enough for me to use my swipe card at the far end door instead of entering through the lobby.

SJ PajonasAbout the Author:
Stephanie (S. J.) is a writer, knitter, amateur astrologer, Capricorn, and Japanophile. She loves foxes, owls, sushi, yoga pants, Evernote, and black tea. When she’s not writing, she’s thinking about writing or spending time outside, unless it’s winter. She hates winter. Someday she’ll own a house in both hemispheres so she can avoid the season entirely. She’s a mom to two great kids and lives with her husband and family outside NYC. They have no pets. Yet. When it comes to her work, expect the unexpected. She doesn’t write anything typical.

You can find and contact SJ Pajonas here:
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Blog Tour: Adventures Abroad by Jen McConnel

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I am excited to be part of the blog tour for the Adventures Abroad series by Jen McConnel. I’ll share the blurbs and buy links for each book and there’s an excerpt from the first book in the series. There’s a tour wide giveaway at the bottom of the post!

Adventures Abroad Series Synopsis:

Four countries.
Three girls.
Three loves.
One adventure abroad they’ll never forget.

WhatHappensinLondonWhat Happens in London (Adventures Abroad #1)
by Jen McConnel

Sarah landed in London, just hoping to leave her home behind and escape her family. But she didn’t plan on falling headfirst into Carson’s arms.

Get ready for a summer of self-discovery and romance in the first of the New Adult novella series, Adventures Abroad!

Praise for What Happens in London:

“Travel through London with Sarah, you’ll squee, laugh and swoon at her adventures, I know I did!”- Lisa Burstein, author of Sneaking Candy

Buy links:

“I wish Carson could see me,” the words slipped out, but then I flushed.
Joelle cocked an eyebrow. “Who’s Carson?”
I shrugged, my face hot. “Just a guy I met here in London.”
I waited for Joelle to tell me I was being stupid, but she just looked thoughtful. “Want him to come with us tonight?”
I shook my head hurriedly. “No, he’s at work.”
“He won’t work all night, will he?”
I hesitated. “True. Do you think the other girls would mind?”
Joelle grinned. “We can always ask them.”
Before I could stop her, she’d called out, “Ladies, any objections to Sarah bringing a man?”
I tried to shush her, but she was laughing. Rachel looked up from curling her eyelashes. “Sure,” she said with a smile, “ask him if he has any friends!”
Oh God, this was getting out of control. “I don’t really know—”
“Do you have his number?”
Mutely, I shook my head. Joelle eyed me critically.
“But you said he has to work. Do you know where he works?”
“The bookstore in Piccadilly Circus,” I answered automatically, and Rachel grinned in triumph.
“Oh, ladies,” she said loudly, “who wants to hit the books before we go out?”
I gave up trying to talk them out of it once we were on the Underground, but when we got to Piccadilly Circus, I tried one more time.
“What if he’s busy?”
Rachel gave me a playful shove. “The least you can do is ask.”
We headed to the bookstore, but when I tried to linger on the sidewalk, Joelle grabbed my arm and led me forward. “Don’t chicken out now!”
The girls were giggling as we entered the store, and I realized that the customers were staring at us with interest. Horrified, I suddenly remembered that we were all dressed for the club. No wonder everyone was staring; I didn’t think halter tops and glitter were customary bookstore apparel.
Feeling naked, I crossed my arms as my eyes darted around the cash registers, searching for Carson, just as a familiar voice called my name. I swiveled around to find him standing behind us, carrying a pile of books.
His eyes traveled up and down my body, and I felt my skin heating up. Casually, Carson set his books down on the counter and stepped forward.
“To what do I owe this pleasure?” His eyes were dancing, and suddenly, I didn’t feel so self-conscious.
“My friends and I are going out tonight,” I began. I coughed, clearing my throat. “They wanted me to ask you, um, if you wanted to come along.”
“And bring your friends!” Rachel added loudly.
Carson glanced at her with a grin and then brought his eyes back to me. “Sounds like a good idea.” He took a step closer and whispered in my ear, “If I weren’t at work right now, I wouldn’t be able to keep my hands off you.”

WhatHappensinParis_FinalCoveWhat Happens in Paris (Adventures Abroad #2)
by Jen McConnel

Camie can’t figure out what she wants, from college or life…until she meets Hunter. But will the magic of a romantic night in Paris last till the morning?

Fall in love with the second novella in the New Adult series, Adventures Abroad!

Buy links:

WhatHappensInBerlinWhat Happens in Berlin (Adventures Abroad #3)
by Jen McConnel

Interrupting a summer of fun, Joelle takes a detour to Berlin for her older brother’s wedding. Spending time with her family is enough to make anyone go a little crazy. She’s ready to lose it…until she meets Vi, a girl ready to turn her world upside down.

Follow her journey in the third installment of the New Adult series, Adventures Abroad!

Buy links:

WhatHappensAbroadWhat Happens Abroad (Adventures Abroad #4)
by Jen McConnel

After a summer of fun, Camie, Joelle, and Sarah are ready to reunite in Italy for one last adventure, but heartbreak waits in the shadows of the cobblestone streets. Can Florence cast its spell and turn lost love into a final fling?

Catch up with the girls in this final installment of the New Adult series about love, escape, and true friendship.

Buy links:

Jen McConnelJen McConnel Bio:
A Michigander by birth, Jen McConnel now makes her home in the beautiful state of North Carolina. She writes NA, including the recently released Adventures Abroad series (Bloomsbury Spark), the award winning YA novel Beautiful Curse, and various other works. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on her yoga mat or wandering off on another adventure. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time. Visit to learn more!


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Review: The Other Side of Summer by Elyse Douglas

The Other Side of SummerTitle: The Other Side of Summer
Author: Elyse Douglas
Series: stamdalone
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance

Joanna Halloran, a best selling writer and astrologer, lives in a beach house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. After a violent storm, she roams the beach, glances seaward and spots a man clinging to a piece of wreckage, being tossed helplessly. She dives in and pulls him safely. Robert Zachary Harrison is from a wealthy, political family. As he slowly recovers from a private plane crash, he and Joanna fall in love and spend passionate and secluded weeks together. But because of family duty, Robert departs, not knowing Joanna is pregnant.

Twenty five years later, Senator Robert Harrison is running for President of the United States. In the midst of a contentious presidential campaign, Joanna’s daughter, who has a passion to expose secrets, seeks revenge on her father she has never met.

She meets and falls in love with her father’s adopted son. As secrets emerge, Joanna and Robert meet again and confront the past and present. Robert confesses a secret that Joanna had never known. Now, on the world stage, they struggle to keep their families and careers from destruction.

My Review:
he Other Side of Summer is a decent read and it will appeal to those who enjoy contemporary women’s fiction.

I really enjoyed the writing style and it’s clear from the high-quality prose and very professional editing and formatting that the authors know what they are doing. The words flowed easily on the page and the descriptive text was beautiful. Pacing was good and it kept me engaged from start to finish.

I completely fell in love with Joanna’s beach house – please can I live there? I could vividly picture it in my minds eye and it truly was a little piece of heaven on Earth.

This story is told in three different parts. One the one hand I liked how it was structured, but it did hamper my ability to really connect with the characters on an emotional level. Apart from Joanna and Robert, we don’t see enough of the other characters to form a bond. I felt the book could have been a bit longer and allowed the reader more opportunity to get to know the characters and observe more character development.

My favorite part of the book was the first part. While Joanna and Robert fall for each other straight away, I felt it, believed in it, and was totally caught up in the whole tragic nature of their love. It’s clear from the book description that it’s not going to be a happy-ever-after type scenario so I knew heartache was just around the corner.

Robert was afraid of turning into his father but unfortunately that’s exactly what happened. I hated how he treated Maya and by the end of the book I was really quite disgusted with him.

Joanna lost some points too as the story progressed. Maya clearly needed her to stand up for her, to fight the wealthy, powerful Harrison family to acknowledge her, but Joanna did the complete opposite. As a woman and a mother Joanna’s treatment of her daughter appalled me.

Matt is a sweetheart and while I was rooting for him and Maya, it all happened way too fast. It would have been more believable if their romance had stretched out for a month or two before becoming serious and before it came out in the open.

Overall though, this was a decent read; largely due to the excellent writing and interesting storyline. With a little bit of fleshing out I think this could be a very accomplished piece of work.

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars.

I received an advance copy of this book via Lola’s Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review. Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read and review their work.

Elyse DouglasAbout the Author:
Elyse Douglas is the pen name for the married writing team Elyse Parmentier and Douglas Pennington. Elyse grew up near the sea, roaming the beaches, reading and writing stories and poetry, receiving a degree in English Literature. She has enjoyed careers as an English teacher, an actress and a speech-language pathologist. Douglas has been a musician, a graphic designer and an equity trader.

Elyse Douglas, have completed seven novels: The Summer Diary, Christmas for Juliet, Wanting Rita, Christmas Ever After, The Christmas Town, The Christmas Diary and The Other Side of Summer.

You can find and contact Elyse here:

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Book Blitz: 3volve by Josefiena Guteirrez

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This is my stop during the book blitz for 3volve by Josefina Gutierrez. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 6 till 12 July, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
This blitz features 3volve and another book by this author: The Shadow of Loss. Both books can be read as standalones although the characters from The Shadow of Loss make a small cameo appearance in 3volve. I share two excerpts with you today, one for each book.

3volve cover3volve
By Josefina Gutierrez
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Multicultural
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: July 14, 2015

From author Josefina Gutierrez, of “The Shadow of Loss”, comes a new New-Adult contemporary love story.
I thought my life began when I graduated high school and moved far, far away—okay three hours away. But I was wrong. My life didn’t start until it almost ended.
I’m Cristal Escobedo, twenty-two years old and a former wild child who favors tequila far too much. But that all changed when life happened, and I ended up being responsible for my younger brothers. To top it all off, I think I’m falling in love with my best friend—dammit.
This is my not-so-happy story of how I grew up and got my shit together. My story isn’t filled with a bunch of pretty analogies or hyperboles. The people are real, the hurt is deep, and the love is complicated. People are flawed in the ways that matter; it’s what makes us human.

You can find 3volve on Goodreads

You can buy 3volve here:

I’ve never claimed to have it all together. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was roaming through life high and excited for the unexpected. I love my family, my parents, my brothers, my friends, but their love was never enough to save me from myself. My self-destructive way, how I always kept ruining the best things I didn’t know I even had.
My story isn’t filled with morality. It doesn’t have some intriguing message about love, and life. Shit, it’s a mess. I’m a mess. I’m not here to tell you what should be important—we all have different values. I’m not here to tell you about responsibility. Hell, if you finish reading my story and gain insight, then more power to you!
I thought my life began when I graduated high school and moved far, far away—okay three hours away. But I was wrong. My life didn’t start until it almost ended.
I’m Cristal Escobedo a twenty-two year old, former wild child, and this is my not-so-happy story of how I grew up and got my shit together. It isn’t filled with a bunch of pretty analogies or hyperboles. The people are real, the hurt runs deep, and the love is complicated. People are flawed in the ways that matter; it’s what makes us human. If you want a sugarcoated story, look to someone other than me.

The Shadow of LossThe Shadows of Loss
By Josefina Gutierrez
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Multicultural, Romance
Age category: Young Adult

Evelyn Gonzalez keeps losing people, which is always hard, but has she lost something much more? Has she lost her soul? Evelyn has a nervous breakdown and is institutionalized, after months of sorrow and pain she is thrust back into the world. The world of teenage angst and Calculus. Can she trust people again? Especially after hurtful assumptions and judgments made her miss her junior year of high school. Evelyn is just trying to heal what she lost and graduate from high school.

You can find Shadow of Loss on Goodreads

You can buy Shadow of Loss here:
Barnes & Noble

“I sense you have lost something precious, yourself.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. How can I lose myself, I’m right here,” I point to myself for the desired effect.
“One can lose thyself, and have their shell remain. It is what we call Susto.”
“What is Susto?”
“You have lost your soul mijita,” she leans forward and grabs my hands.
I can’t control my laughter, but seeing the look of horror on her face calms me right down. “You’re actually serious? My soul? Lost?”
“It is a very serious matter. If left for too long, you may never be complete. You will remain in limbo. You must let me help you.”
“I don’t believe in any of this.”
“You pull at your left sleeve, sí. You suffered an accident, a trauma?” she grabs my arm.
“My sister told you,” I pull back, “It doesn’t prove anything.”
“Aye no. Your sister didn’t tell me anything. I know.”
“When you come in to buy the locket. I saw you are lost. That’s why I asked your sister to allow you to work here. I help.”

Author Photo JosefinaAbout the Author:
Josefina Gutierrez is a Young Adult eBook author, who resides in San Antonio. Josefina writes Young Adult Multicultural, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy literature in her free time when she’s not embarking on adventures with her son and gnomes Fitzgerald and Bartholomew. Her current projects in the works are a Fantasy dystopian series, a Mystery-Thriller eBook, and New-Adult Contemporary Romance.

You can find and contact Josefina here:

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of 3volve. These are the prizes you can win:
– 2 amazon gift cards of 20$
– A designed box including: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, a signed paperback of The shadow of Loss by Josefina Gutierrez, 2 Bookmarks, Silk decorative flowers, Photo frame and a Notebook Potpourri bag (US Only) – see picture, books not show

Designed Box

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