Thursday, August 6, 2020

BOOk BLITZ: August Fog (book #1) by AL Goulden

August Fog
A.L. Goulden
(August Fog, #1)
Publication date: August 1st 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Monica Waters has 31 days to choose between the love of her life or her soulmate. Juggling an unglamorous Hollywood career and a clumsy injury with an endless cocktail of antidepressants and dull daily routines, Monica moves through her thirties in a fog, avoiding the pain of her damaged marriage, broken body, and fragile mind.

Until he comes along.

When emerging artist Quinn Matthews moves next door, just coping with the downward spiral of life is no longer feasible. Their powerful connection ignites a relationship that will tip the boundaries of their perfectly balanced lives, sparking a mutual obsession and life-altering affair.

Monica tosses her prescriptions, striving to be free of their control, but with each passing summer day, dangerous secrets seep into their quiet suburban life, inching toward disaster. Sometimes the truth is hidden for a reason.

“This is a contemporary tale of a woman’s struggle to navigate love and mental illness, while defining where and how she will land on her own feet.” –Independent Reader

“A raw and honest look at the ugly secrets behind a flawed marriage and the stigmas of depression.”

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

They meet

Fusion can happen when two objects reach an extreme heat. When the blood boils, the same can be said of hearts. The connection can excite and ache and torment, yet the demise of will goes unnoticed when the thrill renders an addictive high. Monica Waters once loved getting high, both literally and figuratively, but outgrew the juvenile practice of artistic inspiration. She had responsibilities now, like a mortgage and an admirable career… and a husband.

Antidepressants helped too.

When Los Angeles soared past eighty-five degrees in April the unsettling promise of perpetual summer ignited tension across freeways. Monica shielded anxiety with music and a fun car. Bob Marley had eased an hour-long commute, also known as Thursday, delivering her to the sanctuary of home until she slammed the brakes.

A yellow Nissan blocked the driveway with no owner in sight. Her best friend owned the same vehicle but not with New York plates so she glared next door. Sharing a driveway with Rebecca’s bohemian flophouse had reached its limit.

Monica wedged her BMW into an ivy-covered carport at an awkward angle and pried herself out, trying not to scratch her paint against the fence. She mumbled a few obscenities when she couldn’t get leverage to slam the door but squeezed past the filthy SUV, smoothing her long chestnut hair. The tall Japanese-style gate that led to her bonsai garden greeted with Zen and wafts of jasmine.

That’s when she saw him.

On the wooden staircase that wound up to Rebecca’s converted attic was a man that shifted everything into slow motion. A man, that for a second at least, she would follow anywhere. Her reaction defied rational explanation. The guy wearing jeans and t-shirt carried a box but even his muscular build was common in this town. Still, he had a gentle force of gravity tugging like a current.

The back of his shaved head lacked noticeable character, but his climb was hypnotic. She stopped breathing while her heart pounded at an alarming speed. A beautiful tattoo engulfed his entire right arm with gnarled branches and scattered leaves of an old tree. It rooted around the box and swayed like a breeze as he moved.

When the gate slipped from her fingers, the slam jolted her from the daze and he turned. She inspected her purse and fumbled with her keys even when he paused near the top of the stairs, waiting for attention. She rushed to her back door but couldn’t resist the draw of his stare.

His eyes were crystal blue and pensive under a low-slung heavy brow. He stood confident like carved hardwood left unpolished with ample lips, a strong jaw, and a rugged nose, but didn’t come off as arrogant or boring. Her stomach twisted at his asymmetrical smile.

He was beautiful.

Flushed, she returned a tight grin and nod before barreling into her laundry room. “Who’s the guy next door?” she asked, dropping her stuff on the counter next to the deep sink.

Alex, still sweaty from work, gave her a quick kiss, which was followed by the smacks of a powerful dog tail to her thigh. Her husband’s own shaved head and brawny build still resembled an action hero but his gray eyes lacked the dangerous edge that once made him magnetic.

“You mean the Kelly Slater look-alike?” He laughed. “Rebecca’s renting out the upstairs to some artist. She says he’s bi-coastal… whatever that means. Pretty sure he’s gay.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Did you see what he drives?”

She cocked her head. “So.”

“So? That’s what Robin drives.” He flashed his hands.

“That might be the dumbest thing ever said. Did he look at you too long or something?” “Hey, I’ve got no problem if he’s gay. He can look all he wants. I’m just saying.” Alex flexed his arms and inspected himself.

“Just because Rebecca’s a lesbian doesn’t mean everyone she’s around is gay.” Monica reached to pet their rambunctious Lab Pointer mix, Lacey. “I just hate that she and Julie split. I miss her.”

“Me too. I wish she won the house but Rebecca could afford it.”

“Then why’s she renting out rooms?” Her words had that petulant tone she hated with an unwarranted volume.

“I don’t know,” he said, flicking the counter. “It’s not like we have control over our neighbors.” He shuffled towards the bathroom, stripping for his shower along the way. She watched, remembering when that used to send her running after him, but now he hopped around in his socks and underwear looking more child-like than sexy.

In her ballerina flats, Monica was two inches shy of six feet and two years shy of forty. Her curvy size fourteen worked in Hollywood, the land of size zeros. Sometimes she resented being a giant next to tiny, beautiful people because it equated invisibility, but she faked smiles in the back of every crew photo despite the obscurity of an editing career.

She bent to give Lacey attention and propped the back door open while Mr. Bi-coastal moved from his vehicle to the yard. The redwood fence obscured his face but a childhood crush on Yul Brynner embedded an allure to a nice shaved head. Staring like a lech though erased dignity, so she mustered the nerve to make an introduction.

She stepped outside but an eruption of vicious barking made her yelp. Two enormous Rottweilers flanked the middle landing on the staircase, flinging drool over the fence. Lacey ducked behind Monica in fear.

“No. No barking!” Mr. Bi-coastal bounded up the stairs. “I’m so sorry,” he said, setting another box down. “I promise I’ll keep them quiet. They’re friendly, I swear.” He drew an X over his heart like a seven-year-old but his intense expression was all grown-ass-man.

“It’s alright.” She swallowed hard. “My husband had lovable Rotts growing up.” Spitting out her marital status made her fidget but his shoulders relaxed. “My name’s Monica.”

“I’m Quinn.” He leaned against the railing that hovered above as if to shake her hand. “Did you guys just drive across the country?”
“Yeah.” He squatted to pet them and she noticed his left arm didn’t have visible tattoos.

“This is Sadie and Max. Once they know you, they’ll stop barking.”
She moved closer, pretending to care about this new pet relationship despite growls with

each step. “They’re just protective of you.” “Lucky me.”

She tried not to stare at the unicorn but artists wore gangly and pale with pride, escaping food and sun for months. This man nurtured his body.

“Beautiful dogs.”

Alex stood behind her, wet from the shower in just basketball shorts, but the lack of a Q-tip or something equally inappropriate was boggling.

Quinn straightened. “I was just telling your wife they’re friendly.”

Alex climbed the fence to engage their slobbery faces up-close and flaunt an arm tattoo of a Rott named Bosco. Monica was new to living with dogs but presumed they couldn’t recognize the image of devotion in permanent ink. This king-of-the-castle act was for Quinn.

“Nice tat,” he said, squatting for a closer look.

An immediate tit-for-tat and subtle competition developed between them but Monica found herself comparing odd qualities while they bonded over dogs. The pitch of their voices aligned and laughter became punctuation. Their attributes mimicked one another but Alex’s head was larger while Quinn ate leaner and worked out. They could pass as brothers but something about Quinn upset her.

He was too close.

The two historical homes sat less than seven feet apart, thanks to the lack of building restrictions in the 1920s. That proximity, which had sparked numerous noise complaints, didn’t seem to bother Alex now, tickling those beefy dog faces.

“Rebecca said you’re only here part-time.” Alex stepped off the fence and crossed his arms.

“I’m just starting to show my work here.” He hesitated as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to share more. “My agent thought it was wise, so I’ll be back and forth a lot.”

She hated the two adorable little creases that formed next to his eyes when he smiled. They were marks of experience. Marks of a life lived.

“We should let you get settled,” Alex said, motioning towards the box still sitting on the landing.

Quinn nodded. “It was nice meeting you guys.”

“Absolutely.” She cringed at her valley-girl tone and bizarre wave given to dogs with inherently sad eyes. She beelined for their bedroom hoping to erase that weird encounter from memory.

Author Bio:

Author of the “most realistic, often hilarious, and wonderfully romantic” (Rosie Malezer, international best- selling author) Chasing Swells returns with another emotionally charged and complicated love story about a Hollywood editor struggling with depression who meets her soulmate while she's married to her high-school sweetheart. This unique trilogy takes you through one woman's mid-life crisis as she stumbles and falls apart before realizing she's the only one who can put her pieces back together.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: A Change of View (Northern Lights Collection #2) by Freya Barker

Release Date: July10, 2020
Publisher: Spectrum Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 9 hours 44 minutes
Narrator: Anneliese Rennie, Austin Barringer
Genre: Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle

Synopsis: 

What if, one morning, you look in the mirror and no longer recognize the person looking back?

When Leelo can no longer identify herself by the roles that once defined her, it's both terrifying and liberating. Oh, she feels the loss, grief, and the anger, but when she inherits property up north, she jumps at the promise of freedom and independence. Yet, not everyone in her new community is what they seem, starting with the surly mountain man down the road.

As owner of the local fishing lodge, Roar is content with his everyday life. And the older he gets, the less he appreciates change. So, when a blue-haired, tattooed "city girl" moves into the old motel, shaking up his daily routine, he’s none too pleased. Still, something about the woman’s easy smile and almost reckless grit has him step up as her keeper.

Review:

This was a great romance that shows love and desire don't end after 40. When Leelo takes over her Uncles motel and bar that has fallen into disrepair, she feels daunted by the task of the renovation but ready for the change.  After a failed marriage to a manipulative verbally abusive man and an estranged relationship with her kids this move is just what Leelo needs.

Roar owns the lodge down the road from the motel, alone since his marriage ended due to infidelity Roar puts all his energy into helping his neighbors and his mom while trying to hold himself together.  Several tours in Afghanistan, the loss of his baby, the infidelity of his wife and the loss of a best friend have left him raw and closed off until he sees the tattooed blue haired woman determined to make a go of the motel next door.

This romance combines with a mystery as the lodge, and the motel keep getting vandalized and Leelo doesn't seem to be able to catch up.  As despair starts to settle in she also has feelings blossoming for the handsome cranky neighbor next door.

This is turning out to be an excellent series.  I wasn't sure about the female narrator at first but her voice grew on me.







Disclaimer: I received this book through netgalley.com from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

BOOK BLITZ: The Good Samaritan by Melynda Price


The Good Samaritan
Melynda Price
Publication date: July 30th 2020
Genres: Adult, Thriller
“Only through death, can one truly experience life…”
~The Good Samaritan

With dreams of becoming an Emergency physician, resident Dr. Emma Rhodes has struggled to overcome the tragedy of her past. She’s moving on with her life and reinventing herself despite the guilt that still haunts her. Emma’s goals are finally within her grasp, and the fresh start she’s worked so hard for is hers for the taking. Or is it?
Shot in the line of duty, Detective Sawyer Gerrard owes Dr. Rhodes his life. A budding friendship with the doctor quickly ignites into a complicated relationship when a series of murders leads him to believe she’s being targeted by a serial killer. When the Good Samaritan claims yet another victim, the investigation takes a dangerous turn. The killer knows Emma’s secret and he’s toying with Sawyer, pulling them into a deadly game of cat and mouse where there’s only one rule: nothing is as it seems…
EXCERPT:
“That’s one of the victims?”
Closing the file, he set it aside. “She was his first one. That we know of. I want to warn you that these interviews are going to get personal. But with any luck, we’ll find a thread that will help us catch this guy.”
A shadow of concern crossed her face, but it was gone so fast he almost missed it. Emma had secrets she wasn’t going to part with easily.
“Can you tell me about you past boyfriends? Men you’ve dated? I need first and last names. Phone numbers if you still have them.” He flipped the tablet to a clean page, set the pen on it, and pushed it across the table.
Something painful flashed in her verdant eyes, her expression locking down. “There isn’t anyone.” She slid the tablet back to him.
She’d told him she wasn’t dating right now, but never? Not possible. But why hide it? No way she had no one to put on that list.
“Everyone has someone in their past, Emma. You haven’t been living in a convent for the past twenty-six years. This is important—”
She exhaled a sigh, grabbed the tablet back, and scribbled a name on it before pushing it toward him. “This isn’t going to help you.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because he’s dead.”
Good thing Sawyer was experienced in masking his emotions because Emma just surprised the hell out of him. It explained a lot. Why she didn’t date, why she buried herself in her work. She was obviously still in love with the guy. He’d known there was more to it than simply being busy with her residency. And now her virgin status took on a whole new meaning. These were all questions he was dying to know the answer to, but in this context, he had no business asking. He felt like a prick for being jealous of a ghost and stuffed the emotion before it could take root. “All right, so no boyfriends. What about the hopefuls? Guys that have been interested in you?”
She shrugged.
Well, that was clear as mud. “What about Blake Weston?” he prodded.
Her gaze snapped up and locked on his. “Blake’s my boss.”
“I’m not sure how that excludes him from the list.”
“He knows how I feel about mixing my personal life with my professional one. I’ve been very clear with him. I don’t date the people I work with.”
Her tone was clipped, as if he’d offended her by even suggesting she’d mix business with pleasure. It still didn’t mean shit, though. Blake Weston had a thing for Emma. Anyone with eyes in their goddamn head could see that. He wrote Blake’s name down then met her eyes with a waiting stare. “Anyone else?”
She returned it, non-pulsed, and didn’t miss a beat when she replied, “Not unless you want to put yourself on that list.”


Author Bio:
Melynda Price is a bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her Against the Cage series has finaled in many awards such as the RONE, USA Today BBA, Golden Quill, National Readers’ Choice, and New England Readers’ Choice.
What Price enjoys most about writing is the chance to make her readers fall in love, over and over again. She cites the greatest challenge of writing is making the unbelievable believable, while taking her characters to the limit with stories full of passion and unique twists and turns. Salting stories with undertones of history whenever possible, Price adds immeasurable depth to her well-crafted books. She currently lives in Northern Minnesota with her husband and two children where she has plenty of snow-filled days to curl up in front of the fireplace with her Chihuahua and a hot cup of coffee to write.

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Monday, August 3, 2020

ARC BOOK REVIEW: Little Creeping Things by Chelsea Ichaso

Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Format: ebook
Pages:  336 Pages
Genre:  Mystery/thrillers/YA
Buy: Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis:

When she was a child, Cassidy Pratt accidentally started a fire that killed her neighbor. At least, that’s what she’s been told. She can’t remember anything from that day. She’s pretty sure she didn’t mean to do it. She’s a victim too. But her town’s bullies, particularly the cruel and beautiful Melody Davenport, have never let her live it down. In Melody’s eyes, Cassidy is a murderer and always will be.

And then Melody goes missing, and Cassidy think she may have information about what happened. She knows she should go to the cops, but…she recently joked about how much she’d like to get rid of Melody. She even planned out the perfect way to do it. And then she gets a chilling text from an unknown number: I’m so glad we’re in this together.

Now it’s up to Cassidy to figure out what’s really going on, before the truth behind Melody’s disappearance sets the whole town ablaze.

Review: 

This is definitely a YA book and I would recommend for middle schoolers.  Cassidy is a teenager, filled with drama, angst and overreaction.  She jumps to conclusions, is worried about what people think of her and also believe that long ago when she was a child she set a fire that almost killed her and did kill her best friend.

Her friend Gideon is drawn to women hurting and in danger.  He has been Cassies best friend since they were young and they are inseparable, that is until Cassie starts acting strangely and hiding things from him.

As Cassie tries to unravel who she heard in the woods and what happened to Melody, things kept taking twists and turns and clues seem to point in all directions.  Its like being inside the mind of a teenager with all the quick changes of direction and faulty reasoning and while I got tired of it as some points it did keep you guessing and the end I didn't see coming so I have to go with 4 stars for keeping me on my toes.







Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from netgalley.com

Discover other books or products I like: https://www.amazon.com/shop/readinggrrl 
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