Review & Giveaway – Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy, by Marlene M. Bell

Scattered Legacy

 

About the book, Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy

  • Genre: Mystery / Romance
  • Publisher: Ewephoric Publishing
  • Date of Publication: November 4, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 352 pages
  • Series: Annalisse (Book 3)
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Scattered LegacyTo outsiders, the relationship between Manhattan antiquities assessor Annalisse Drury and sports car magnate Alec Zavos must look carefree and glamorous. In reality, it’s a love affair regularly punctuated by treasure hunting, high adventure, and the occasional dead body.

When Alec schedules a getaway trip to show Annalisse his mother’s Italian birthplace, he squeezes in the high-stakes business of divesting his family’s corporation. But things go terribly wrong as murder makes its familiar reappearance in their lives – and this time it’s Alec’s disgraced former CFO who’s the main suspect.

Accompanied by friend and detective Bill Drake, Annalisse and Alec find themselves embroiled in a behind-closed-doors conspiracy that threatens the reputation and legacy of Alec’s late father – linking him to embezzlement, extortion, and the dirty business of the Sicilian Mafia. The key to it all might be a gifted set of rosary beads where Annalisse can use her skills for appraising artifacts to uncover the truth. She leads Alec toward answers that are unthinkable—and events that will change their futures forever.

Scattered Legacy is the third in Marlene M. Bell’s thrilling Annalisse series, which weaves romance, crime, and historical mystery into addictive tales to instantly captivate fans of TV show Bones or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

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Buy, read, and discuss this book:

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About the author, Marlene M. Bell

Marlene M. BellMarlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.

Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named, Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.

Connect with Marlene:

WEBSITE  ◆  BLOG ◆ FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER ◆ AMAZON  ◆  GOODREADS  ◆ BOOKBUB


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellMurder. Intrigue. Scandal. Romance. Scattered Legacy: Murder in Southern Italy has it all.

While this is the third book in Marlene M. Bell’s Annalisse series, it’s my introduction to the series (though I did feature a guest post from the author when book one was published several years ago). Nevertheless, I had no trouble recognizing the relationships between Anna and Alec, and Anna and Gen (both of which are central to the story) or following any of the through-plots that were obviously set up in previous installments. Rather, I found this to be a richly developed, if slightly heightened, version of reality. Bell’s opening scene captured my attention from the first paragraph. The juxtaposition of impending doom, family drama, and a shoplifting attempt (that clearly meant something more) was instantly intriguing.

As a second-generation Italian-American myself, I really appreciated the way Italian words and slang were dropped into the dialogue by some of the characters (Gen, especially) and how naturally ALL the dialogue sounded. I loved the way the family drama was both sweeping, involving an antique rosary, and intimate at the same time. The interactions between all the core characters felt believable. In many ways, I felt as if I’d met them before.

I also appreciated the pacing of the novel, which had a contemporary feel complimented by a neo-noire undertone that worked perfectly. Exposition unrolled organically, and I never felt like any scene was just a gratuitous info-dump. Of course, when the action moved to Italy, everything became even more heightened. The Italian characters really stood out here, but Anna and the rest of the non-Italians, Bill Drake most prominently, were equally dynamic. (In truth, I’d read a whole series about Bill.)

But it was the story that stayed front-and-center, and Bell did not let me down. Passion, scandal, blackmail, murder, intrigue, and even history are woven into a intricate plot with just enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing without causing confusion. I’m definitely going to go back and read the first two novels – I’m hooked on Anna and her story. This book was a satisfying read as a stand-alone, but I want more.

Goes well with: Sicilian blood oranges and a glass of chilled Prosecco.

Scattered Legacy


Giveaway

 THREE WINNERS (US ONLY):

1st SUPER GRANDPRIZE ($425 VALUE):
Patricia Nash leather bag; Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Puglia Region of Italy; Orecchiette Pasta from the Puglia Region; Weekly 2022 Engagement Spiral Calendar; Silver/Gold Italy Coin necklace on 18” silver chain; autographed copy of Scattered Legacy; $50 VISA gift card.

2ND PRIZE & 3rd PRIZE – Signed copies of Scattered Legacy.

(US only; ends midnight, CST, 12/10/21)

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Review & Giveaway: The Yes Dare, a Pies, Books, & Jesus Book Club Novel by Kathleen Y’Barbo

The Yes Dare

 

About the book, The Yes Dare

The Yes Dare

  • Genre: Romance / Clean Romance
  • Date of Publication: July 15, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 246 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway!

Have you ever wished for a second chance to fix something you’ve messed up or for the courage to say yes to something that just may change your life? Sometimes saying yes to the last thing you want can mean saying yes to exactly what you need.

Ryan “The Rocket” Sutton’s winning streak is legendary makes him the undisputed best quarterback in the NFL. However, thanks to one dumb mistake, he’s a failure as a husband to Coco, the only woman he’s ever loved. When a judge’s mistake in divorce paperwork means Coco is still his wife, Ryan makes up his mind to fix what he ruined. Ryan’s game plan doesn’t count on an internationally famous movie director’s camera crew following him as he competes for Coco’s love.

After spending most of her adult life as a football wife and mother to twin sons, fashionista Coco Sutton is learning how to be single and fabulous. Emphasis on Fabulous. The sports trophies, memorabilia, and heavy masculine wood furniture in the home she used to share with Ryan have been banished to the attic, and her home is now a cozy haven of plush candle-scented comfort. She’s got big plans that include owning a boutique or maybe an art gallery, but she never planned to take on the biggest challenge of her life: staying single. Then her best friend gives her a copy of a book called The Yes Dare, and all her plans are turned upside down.

From a Hollywood movie to the local spring event formerly known as the Cow Chip Toss Festival and a country crooner with a crush on Coco, will Ryan dodge the obstacles to win back the only woman he ever loved?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


About the Author, Kathleen Y’Barbo

Author Pic Y'BarboPublishers Weekly bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and bestselling author of more than one hundred books with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is a member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, Texas A&M Association of Former Students and the Texas A&M Women Former Students (Aggie Women), Texas Historical Society, Sisters in Crime, Faith Hope and Love Christian Writers, and American Christian Fiction Writers. She would also be a member of the Daughters of the American Republic, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and a few others if she would just remember to fill out the paperwork that Great Aunt Mary Beth has sent her more than once.

Kathleen and her hero in combat boots husband have their own surprise love story that unfolded on social media a few years back. They make their home just north of Houston, Texas, and are the parents, grandparents, and in-laws of a blended family of Texans, Okies, and a trio of adorable Londoners.

Connect with Kathleen:

Website | BookBub | Facebook | Instagram | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI was a little trepidatious about starting The Yes Dare, because I’m not really a sports person. (Well, I like the froufrou expensive sports like figure skating), but even though the main character, Ryan, is a professional athlete I found him to be so engaging that the sports stuff wasn’t bogging me down at all. In fact, I was enchanted by the entire story.

So many romances focus on first love or love at first sight. This novel is a refreshing change, because the love story at the heart of the novel, that of Ryan and Coco, is a return to love, with adult characters who have real life experience. As someone who is old enough to be an empty-nester (except that we never had children) I really appreciated seeing mature characters at the center of a really good story.

As engaging as I found the character of Ryan, I found Coco to be even more so, because she’s really discovering who she is both in and out of the roles of wife and mother. I’ve always believed that you cannot be happy in any role unless you’re happy being just yourself, and this woman’s arc really proves that to be true.

Some people may feel that a title billed as a “clean” romance is going to be insipid, but The Yes Dare is absolutely wonderful. The leads are smart, interesting people, the supporting characters are dimensional, and there’s as much humor – the organic “comes from life” kind – as there is personal and family drama.

One thing I really appreciated was the way the author, Kathleen Y’Barbo allowed both Ryan and Coco to acknowledge their own flaws and foibles. It’s often said that the only people who know the truth of a relationship are the people in it. In The Yes Dare we got to peek at the truth of a complicated marriage – one where both parties have made mistakes, and both parties are eager to grow.

Personal growth is a key element of this novel. Every character finishes the story in a better place than where they started, though some of the changes are more subtle than others.

If you’re looking for a sensational romance with heightened emotions and starry-eyed naifs, this is NOT the book for you. If, however, you want a really satisfying read with grown-up characters and heartfelt feelings, you will love The Yes Dare. I certainly did.

Goes well with: Coffee and pie. Definitely pie.


Giveaway

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

 FOUR WINNERS:
Grand Prize:
Full PB&J series, autographed by Kathleen Y’Barbo

and the real Bonnie Sue.
Three Winners:
Autographed copy of The Yes Dare
(US only; ends midnight, CST, 11/12/21)

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Review & Giveaway: Since You’ve Been Gone, by Tari Faris

BNR Since You've Been Gone

 

About the book, Since You’ve Been Gone

  • Genre: Fiction / Christian / Contemporary Romance
  • Publisher: Revell
  • Date of Publication: September 7, 2021
  • Number of Pages: 336 pages
  • Series: Restoring Heritage
  • Scroll down for giveaway!

Cover Hi Res Since You've Been GoneWith her vision and his know-how, this thing just might work . . .

Leah Williams is back in the quaint town of Heritage, Michigan, and ready to try again to make her business a success. But blank slates are hard to come by, and a piece of her past is waiting for her there. Heir to the Heritage Fruits company, Jonathan Kensington is the guy who not only made Leah’s past difficult, but he also seems determined to complicate her present as well.

In order to avoid forcing a buyout of Leah’s building, Jon will have to strike a compromise. Can the two of them work together? Or will their troubled past set the tone for their future?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | ChristianBook.com | Other Affiliates | Goodreads


About the author, Tari Faris

Author pic FarisTari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me and Until I Met You. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects manager for My Book Therapy, writes for learnhowtowriteanovel.com, and is a 2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children. Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for 25 years.

Connect with Tari:

WEBSITE FACEBOOK  TWITTER   AMAZONGOODREADS◆  INSTAGRAM BOOKBUB


My Thoughts

MissMeliss2021Love abounds in Heritage, MI, in Since You’ve Been Gone, the latest addition to Tari Faris’s engaging “Restoring Heritage” series of romances.  There’s love between old friends, new friends, a treasured family business, and even love for the town itself, and it’s all wrapped in a package that manages to be sincere without being sickly-sweet.

What I really appreciated about this novel was that every one of the main characters had some kind of flaw or vulnerability. Leah isn’t great at ordered thinking and logical planning, Jon is standing in the shadows of his deceased father, Colby is coming from a professional scandal while Madison dealing with an intense personal situation. This was a refreshing change from the formula romances where everyone is model-perfect and equally plastic. In this novel the characters are believable and dimensional and it’s easy to become invested in their stories and outcomes.

I also liked that there were married couples who were friends of the four single characters. Nate (a pastor) and Olivia along with Hannah and Luke (and less so Leah’s sister Caroline and her husband) offer support and wisdom to the others, but the friendships mix and match and it’s never only married folks or only single folks when there are gatherings.

I haven’t read the previous two novels in this series, but  something notable about this book that I suspect runs through the whole series is that the town of Heritage is, itself, a character. The connections to the town run deep, and many of the characters are passionate about their love for their home. I’ve lived in towns like that, and I hope to live in one again. Sure, the neighbors know everything that’s going on, but there’s something really lovely about it as well.

Well paced and rich in detail, Since You’ve Been Gone is a satisfying treat of a novel.

Goes well with: hot tea and homemade pastries.


Giveaway

ONE WINNER:
A copy of the whole Restoring Heritage series,
a $10 Starbucks gift card,
and a bookish sticker pack!
(
US only. Ends 10/22/21.)

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Review: Finding Summer Happiness, by Chris Penhall

Finding Summer Happiness

 

About the book, Finding Summer Happiness

Finding Summer Happiness by Chris PenhallYou won’t find happiness without breaking a few eggs …
Miriam Ryan was the MD of a successful events and catering company, but these days even the thought of chopping an onion sends her stress levels sky rocketing. A retreat to the Welsh village of her childhood holidays seems to offer the escape she’s craving – just peace, quiet, no people, a generous supply of ready meals … did she mention no people?

Enter a cheery pub landlord, a lovesick letting agent, a grumpy astronomer with a fridge raiding habit – not to mention a surprise supper club that requires the chopping of many onions – and Miriam realizes her escape has turned into exactly what she was trying to get away from, but could that be just the thing she needs to allow a little bit of summer happiness into her life?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (USA) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Chris Penhall

Chris PenhallChris Penhall won the 2019 Choc-Lit Search for a Star competition, sponsored by Your Cat Magazine, for her debut novel, The House That Alice Built. The sequel, New Beginnings at the Little House in the Sun was published in August 2020. Her short story, Lily McKee’s Seven Days of Christmas appears in Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction’s Cosy Christmas Treats anthology.

Her new novel, Finding Summer Happiness, which is set in Pembrokeshire in South West Wales was published in May 2021.

Chris is an author and freelance radio producer for BBC Local Radio.
She also has her own podcast – The Talking to My Friends About Book Podcast in which she chats to her friends about books. Good title!

Born in Neath in South Wales, she has also lived in London and in Portugal, which is where The House That Alice Built is set. It was whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon that she began to dabble in writing fiction, but it was many years later that she was confident enough to start writing her first novel, and many years after that she finally finished it!

A lover of books, music and cats, she is also an enthusiastic salsa dancer, a keen cook, and loves to travel. She is never happier than when she is gazing at the sea.

Connect with Chris:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellSomething I’ve learned in the last few years is that if a book has Chris Penhall as the author, it’s going to be a fabulous read. Finding Summer Happiness, the author’s most recent title completely supports my initial statement. Charming, with a bit of romance and a bit of intrigue, it came into my life when I really needed it, and put a smile on my face.

Protagonist Miriam is quite possibly my favorite Penhall lead so far. Savvy and smart, she’s burnt out with her business, and finally agrees to have her personal assistant arrange a break for her. Six months in a cottage by the sea. When she learns the actual terms of said break, I felt her disappointment, displeasure, and confusion, and wanted to rush in and help her out. Her work ethic and sense of honor merge with her attorney’s advice, and the story really takes off

A former business-owner myself, although not professionally, I really resonated with Miriam, especially since I’ve been through the experience of leaving the corporate world, but I enjoyed the characters of Jim the pub owner, Rhiannon the realtor (sorry, letting agent) and Alan the unwanted sort-of guest, and the largely offscreen Justin. These characters were all funny and interesting and felt the like odd assortment of friends and cohorts many of us tend to collect.

I also appreciated the various guests and villagers who rounded out the story. Penhall has a knack for creating vivid and dimensional characters and communities, and in this book she excels at both. I wanted to knock on the door of Miriam’s rented cottage and demand a seat in her supper club.

This is a light read that is grounded in serious topics, like how to change your life and when to make the leap and follow your dreams.

Goes well with: A rainy day, a glass of wine, and a bowl of onion soup.

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Review: Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe, by Rosie Green

Sweet Pastries & Sourdough

 

About the book Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe

SWEET PASTRIES and SOUR DOUGHLDPC_FRONT_RGB150dpiEllie’s brand new enterprise, the True Loaf Bakery, is finally open and classes are due to start. But when Katja’s ski-ing holiday ends in disaster, a new teacher must be found very quickly. Anita is up for the challenge, but – fresh from a break-up and an operation that’s left her feeling physically and emotionally vulnerable – the last thing she’s looking for when she moves to Sunnybrook is a new relationship. So it’s Sod’s law that she should find herself with not one but two guys vying for her attention. Sven, from Denmark, is a bit of an enigma – but maybe passion lurks beneath his cool reserve? And as for twenty-five-year-old football coach Ross – surely she’d be asking for trouble getting involved with a gorgeous man a decade her junior? (Although her football-mad son Rufus seems to love him.)
Moving in with Bertha proves a real comfort – but can Anita get to the bottom of what’s troubling the older woman?

Anita’s job at the True Loaf Bakery is only temporary, but she finds herself drawn ever deeper into life in the village – especially when she finds a child’s bracelet from long ago, in the rubble of the newly-renovated building. Solving the mystery of who it belongs to takes Anita on a journey of discovery – a journey that might just help her discover what her own heart really needs…

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase | Goodreads


About the author, Rosie Green

Rosie Green Author PicRosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.

Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.

Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Her series of novellas is centered around life in a village cafe.

Connect with Rosie:

Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellSweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe is the fifteenth Little Duck Pond Cafe Book, but it’s the first I’ve read. Nevertheless, the characters and setting were all so vivid that I felt as though I’d been visiting the cafe for years.

Part romance, part mystery, this novel is the story of a single mother named Anita seeking to redefine herself after a divorce and being a stay-at-home-mom during her son’s early life. It’s such a relatable story – how many women go through such things? – that stepping into the world Rosie Green has created was as effortless as stepping across the street to visit with a neighbor. Anita is a fantastic lead character: smart, funny, and flawed, as well as supremely real. The first person point of view was the perfect choice for her story.

Sven, Bertha, and especially best friend Ellie, as well as the other characters who live and work in Sunnybrook, were all as dynamically drawn as Anita, and felt like just the sort of people you’d encounter in every day life, and I really appreciated the great affection Ellie and Anita showed for each other. Friendships between women are too often depicted as competitions, and this was, refreshingly not the case with these too.

Author Green’s style is fresh and breezy, accessible without being too shallow, and I liked that she used casual language so well in dialogue and for Anita’s narration. As well, she balances romance and mystery elements without going too far with either.

While I had no issue reading Sweet Pastries and Sourdough at the Little Duck Pond Cafe as a standalone novel, a part of me wishes I’d been reading Green’s work from the beginning so I could appreciate the way her talent has grown.

Goes well with: a cheese danish and a mug of coffee.


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Review: A Little Birdie Told Me, by Sharley Scott

A Little Birdie Told Me

 

About the book, A Little Birdie Told Me

A Little Birdie Told Me_ FINALIt’s 1988. The era of young love, with Scott and Charlene melting hearts in Neighbours, and a new princess for the Royal Family. With Bros, Madonna and Wet Wet Wet in the charts, and children hoping for Ghostbusters’ toys in their stockings.

But it’s not all fun for Belinda. If her life was a board game, she’s losing at snakes and ladders. Once she’d been working her way up one of those ladders but, thanks to her snake-like polytechnic lecturer, she’s toppled from the rungs. Now she works in an old people’s home, where her chief duties involve cleaning toilets and emptying commodes.

At least her lovely colleague, Joe, offers excitement in her otherwise dreary life. But Belinda can’t believe he’d be interested in someone like her. Not when her pretty friend, Tracey, only has to glance at a man to have him fall for her.

But just when it seems things are looking up for Belinda, the residents’ precious possessions start to go missing. Then she witnesses a disturbing incident and doesn’t know what to do. Luckily, Belinda has Joe to guide her – until she discovers that he’s hiding a secret, one that forces her to make an agonizing decision.

Will she continue to hide in the shadows, never speaking out – or will she put her future on the line to stand up for what is right? After all, she’s caring for a generation that’s lived through two wars. Now it’s time to fight for them.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Sharley Scott

Sharley Scott is the author of the Devon Seaside Guesthouse novels – Bedlam & Breakfast and B&Bers Behaving Madly – and the Maddie Meadows series.

Sharley is a guesthouse owner in South Devon. She is thankful to have been blessed with lots of amazing and kind-hearted guests, who are nothing like some of the fictional characters featured in the Devon Seaside Guesthouse series.

The Two Lives of Maddie Meadows – and its sequel The Gift of a Rose – portray the life of a working single mum. Some of the mischief Maddie’s little one, Josh, gets up to will be familiar to all parents. In real life, Sharley has carried out the threats she made to her son decades ago and now gets her own back him by telling tales to his girlfriend (some of the incidents in the books are inspired by him), although he returns the favour by recounting utterly embarrassing stories about his mum.

Sharley’s latest novel ‘A Little Birdie Told Me…’ is being published in February 2021. This book goes back in time to the late eighties: a time of fun music, interesting fashion, strange hairstyles and no internet or mobile phones. Fancy having to talk to each other! (Says the author who frequents Facebook too often).

Connect with Sharley

Facebook | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellI’ve read and reviewed Sharley Scott’s work before, and her books are always absorbing and well-written.

A Little Birdie Told Me is no exception. Protagonist Belinda, like her story, is at times frustrating, funny, and feisty. She is a completely realistic character, and while her best friend Tracey almost slips into the realm of stereotypes, she is also the perfect foil for her friend.

What I really loved about Belinda, and what drew me into this novel, was her flaws. She’s not quick to stand up for herself, she lacks self-confidence, and she tends to mumble. Put together, these things don’t scream “leading lady,” and yet, under Scott’s deft hand what could be a tragic character becomes a romantic heroine.

While Belinda is the focus of the story, I enjoyed meeting Joe, wanted to throttle Belinda’s coworkers, and loved meeting all of the different residents of this retirement home, and seeing them interact with our young lead.

Like the last Scott novel I read, this book is not a predictable, cookie-cutter romance, but a deep, personal story with an element of romance running through it. The dialogue is convincing, and the plot is well-paced, with just enough exposition to keep things clear without ruining the experience for readers who prefer to learn things from the characters’ activities.

A Little Birdie Told Me is a fast, compelling read, perfect for a rainy weekend.

Goes well with: egg salad sandwiches and fresh lemonade enjoyed while lounging on a blanket in the park.

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Review: A Brush with Death, by Fiona Leitch

Nosey Parker Cosy Mystery Series

 

About the book, A Brush with Death

  • Publisher : One More Chapter (February 12, 2021)
  • Publication date : February 12, 2021
  • Language : English
  • File size : 2794 KB

A Brush with Death coverJodie ‘Nosey’ Parker is back!

When a body turned up at her last catering gig it certainly put people off the hor d’oeuvres. So with a reputation to salvage, Jodie’s determined that her next job for the village’s festival will go without a hitch.

But when chaos breaks out, Jodie Parker somehow always finds herself in the picture.

The body of a writer from the festival is discovered at the bottom of a cliff, and the prime suspect is the guest of honour, the esteemed painter Duncan Stovall. With her background in the Met police, Jodie has got solving cases down to a fine art and she knows things are rarely as they seem.

Can she find the killer before the village faces another brush with death?

The second book in the Jodie ‘Nosey’ Parker cosy mystery series. Can be read as a standalone. A humorous cosy mystery with a British female sleuth in a small village. Includes one of Jodie’s Tried and Tested Recipes! Written in British English. Mild profanity and peril.

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | Goodreads


About the author, Fiona Leitch

Fiona Leitch headshotFiona Leitch is a writer with a checkered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. Her debut novel ‘Dead in Venice’ was published by Audible in 2018 as one of their Crime Grant finalists. After living in London, Hastings and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters.

Connect with Fiona:

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My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellThe second novel in Fiona Leitch’s delightful Nosey Parker mystery series can be read and enjoyed as a standalone story, but leaping into it immediately after finishing the first provides a richer experience because it becomes evident that these wonderfully rich characters have further developed.

Opening a few weeks after the original story, A Brush with Death focuses on an arts festival with all of the quirky personalities such events inevitably draw. These include the familiar characters of Jodie “Nosey” Parker, her mother and daughter, her friend Tony, DCI Nathan Withers, and Germaine the dog. All of them seem a bit more developed than they were in Murder on the Menu, but the differences are subtle. Nathan seems a little less officious. Tony feels more grounded. And Jodie “Nosey” Parker herself has reached the point in her post-London life where she’s open to romance again.

Of course, there’s a murder early in the festival activities, and Jodie is in the thick of it, trying to prove the truth of what happened even when it takes her away from other things. While her relationship with the one of the figures at the center of the investigation, famous painter Duncan Stoval, calls her judgement into  question, her choices are understandable for a woman in her position. Similarly, she gives real consideration to her flirtatious friendship with Withers, even as she’s inserting herself into his attempt to solve the murder.

As before, the backdrop of the Cornish seaside is as much a character as any of the humans (or dogs), but this time the action moves further afield from Penstowan than before.

Fiona Leitch has given readers a compelling mystery and an accurate look at dating after a divorce, lacing it with her usual humor and deftness at writing dialect. Whether or not you’ve read the first Nosey Parker novel, A Brush with Death is not a book to be brushed aside.

Goes well with: hot tea and saffron buns.


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Review: Comfort Foods, by Kimberly Fish – with Giveaway

BNR Comfort Foods

About the book, Comfort FoodsCover Comfort Foods

  • Series: Comfort Stories – but this is a Standalone Novel
  • Categories: Contemporary / Second Chance Romance
  • Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
  • Date of Publication: October 7, 2020
  • Number of Pages: 385 pages
  • Scroll down for Giveaway

From the award-winning author of Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs comes a story of two rising stars blitzed by social media. Lacy Cavanaugh and single-dad Rudy Delgardo live a hundred miles apart but meet in the worst possible way. Working at a weekly paper and creating social media for area businesses helps Lacy connect with locals who open her mind to a perspective beyond Instagram. In launching a food-and-wine festival to support Comfort’s new event center, she discovers surprising skills bubbling over, much like the food she’s attempting to cook.

Rudy, on the brink of his restaurant’s takeover, struggles to improve time management so he can create a better relationship with his daughter. Distracted by Lacy and her invitation to the festival, he’s tempted by her beauty, wit, and courage, but as a chef, he rarely gets to enjoy life outside the kitchen. Enemies, illness, and exes add unwelcome spice to the dish they’re concocting—one that will teeter with misunderstanding until the very end.

Will Lacy and Rudy embrace their second chances and discover the perfect seasonings of family, resilience, and grace to create a handwritten recipe of love that will stand the test of time?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Goodreads


Kimberly Fish About the author, Kimberly Fish

Author Kimberly Fish resides in Longview, Texas, and enjoys writing contemporary fiction set in the Hill Country. During the seven years she lived in San Antonio, wandering in and around Comfort, Texas, provided endless space for her imagination to develop stories of women discovering their grit. She studied the small Texas town that had seemingly dug its heels into the limestone and refused modern development and thought that was fertile ground for stories about women remodeling their lives. It made a juxtaposition of place and purpose that was hard to ignore. Plus, anything that takes intentional effort has a much higher value than the things that come easily—Comfort personifies this, and the novels remind readers that anything worth having is worth the work.

Comfort Foods is the third full-length novel in the set, Fiction from the Texas Hill Country, and follows behind the award-winning novels Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs. A novella, Emeralds Mark the Spot, is available as a free eBook download to subscribers of the incredibly sporadic newsletter at kimberlyfish.com and is the original story from which all other Comfort novels grew.

Connect with Kimberly:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Melissa A. BartellMy Thoughts

Kimberly Fish is one of those authors you can trust to always tell a great story. She writes realistic, interesting characters, who feel like people you’d want to know (with a few exceptions who are still vividly drawn, but so annoying you hope they walk off a cliff – I’m looking at you, Amy Marsh). The fact that she can create such a visceral reaction to antagonist who exists mostly in references made by the protagonist is proof of her craft. Ms. Fish is an amazing writer.

Fish’s latest novel, Comfort Foods is an amazing book.

At 385 pages, this novel is a meaty, satisfying story that is as much about reinventing yourself as it is about finding love at different stages of your life. Protagonist Lacy Cavanaugh is a former singer and social influencer who has been put in tech jail after using her powers to expose the truth about the afore-mentioned Amy Marsh. leaves the bright lights of Dallas for the Texas Hill Country town of Comfort, where her sister raises goats and makes cheese, and her friend runs a lavender farm. If that sounds more like a vacation than a punishment, than you, like me, will love this book.

Lacy comes off as a bit self-entitled at first, but I quickly grew to find her charming. She’s pretty, funny, smart, and a loyal friend, and though she’s forbidden from posting to her own social media accounts, is happy to help her sister and friends maximize their exposure. She’s the kind of woman who does a lot of things well, and just hasn’t settled into a really productive and positive niche. Even though I’m a couple of decades older than Lacy, I really identified with that aspect of her personality. (I sometimes joke that I’m a professional dilettante.)

Lacy may be the central character, but the other people we meet, in Comfort and a hundred miles away in Austin, are equally compelling. Rudy Delgardo, a successful chef and divorced father to a precious little girl named Luna, is dynamic. His conflict over his responsibilities to his job and to his child are totally plausible – things every working parent must work through. It’s no surprise when he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship.

But Lacy and Rudy aren’t the only paring in this novel. Fish gave us two fantastic characters in Frank, owner of the local paper and Lacy’s boss/mentor and Gloria, Frank’s ex-wife, who is also Lacy’s landlady and  mother-figure (because every woman needs a mother, no matter her age – and I love that Kimberly Fish understands that.) Watching the combination of tenderness and pricklyness between the two is both funny and endearing – I’d happily read a whole novel based on just them.

Kale, AJ (the lavender farmer), and their spouses round out the regulars in Comfort, and each one is a perfect voice in the chorus that is this novel.

And then there is Comfort itself. This fictional Texas town is as much a setting as a character, and after reading two of Fish’s previous books set there, it’s a town I wish I could visit in real life and not just in the pages of a novel.

Overall, Comfort Foods is a wonderful slice of life story with just enough romance to keep things interesting, but without being overpowering. It has scenes with great food. It has moments of perfect sunsets over fields of lavender. It is the perfect book for these January days when we are past the holidays, stuck in the winter doldrums, and overwhelmed by the realities of the Pandemic and politics.

Kimberly Fish is an author who always hits the right notes with her stories. In Comfort Foods those notes are herbs and spices instead of chords, but they still harmonize beautifully.

Goes well with a burger made on a backyard grill, homemade French fries, and a cold “Dublin” Dr. Pepper (the kind made with real sugar and sold in glass bottles


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ONE WINNER 

GRANDPRIZE (US only):

Signed copy of COMFORT FOODS +

Ina Garten’s MODERN COMFORT FOOD

Ends Midnight, CST, January 22, 2021

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Visit the Other Great Blogs on This Tour

or visit the Lone Star Literary Life tour page

1/12/21 Guest Post Hall Ways Blog
1/12/21 Review Sydney Young, Stories
1/13/21 Excerpt Forgotten Winds
1/14/21 Review Jennie Reads
1/14/21 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
1/15/21 Review The Clueless Gent
1/16/21 Review Jennifer Silverwood
1/17/21 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
1/18/21 Review Momma on the Rocks
1/18/21 Character Interview StoreyBook Reviews
1/19/21 Review Book Bustle
1/19/21 Guest Post That’s What She’s Reading
1/20/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
1/21/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
1/21/21 Review Bibliotica

 

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Review: Christmas at Moonshine Hollow, by Angela Britnell

Christmas at Moonshine Hollow

 

Christmas at Moonshine Hollow by Angela BritnellAbout the book, Christmas at Moonshine Hollow

  • Paperback : 193 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1781893640
  • ISBN-13 : 978-178189364
  • Publisher : Choc Lit (November 24, 2020)

Mistletoe and moonshine: a Christmas match made in heaven?
Moonshine Hollow’s famous ‘Lightning Flash’ might be an acquired taste, although the same could be said for moonshine distillery owner Cole Landon, what with his workaholic habits and ‘Scrooge’ tendencies when it comes to all things Christmassy.

But when Jenna Pendean from Cornwall pays a visit to Cole’s family-run distillery in Tennessee during the holiday season, will Cole’s cynicism about the existence of Christmas miracles be put to the test?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Purchase Link | Goodreads


About the author, Angela Britnell

Christmas AuthorAngela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties!

A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to over three decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers. Her first novel ‘Truth and Consequence’ was published in 2006 and she’s now had over 30 novels published internationally and several short stories in women’s magazines.

Connect with Angela:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. Bartell“So bring us some figgy pudding and a drop of good cheer… ” In this novel, Christmas at Moonshine Hollow, the “good cheer” comes in the form of moonshine – not the ilicit, illegal kind from the days of prohibition, but the legal version made in shiny family-owned distilleries and marketed like any other kind of alcohol. More than moonshine though, is the relationship between Landon Moonshine heir Cole, and Brit-out-of-water Jenna, who meet when she shows up at a tour of his family business.

This is a Christmas romance, written with a deft hand by Angela Britnell, so it’s no surprise that sparks immediately fly between Jenna and Cole, but it turns out that all isn’t snowy and perfect, because there’s drama in the Landon family (they may have to sell the distillery) and there’s drama from Jenna as well, or, rather, a bit of holiday intrigue.

While the romance is at the forefront of this story, the time devoted to Cole’s relationship with his stepfather and his extended family is well spent – love and money are difficult things to mesh and families tend not to be honest about either when they should. As well, we see Jenna’s relationship with her estranged (from each other) parents, who have her trapped in the middle of their toxic relationship.

Aside from Cole, Debbie, Sylvia, Martin, Mimi, and Jenna, all characters who felt plausibly real and believable, especially the southern characters, whom Britnell imbued with just enough accent to make it almost audible, one thing I really appreciated about this novel was what I learned about moonshine as I read it. I always assumed that it was basically flavorless, like Everclear. It never occurred to me that it came in varietals and flavors, more like tequila.

Overall, this was a delightful holiday romance, and worth reading on a chilly December evening.

Goes well with a massive burger and a locally brewed beer.


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Review: Warwick’s Mermaid, by Ellie Gray

Warwicks Mermaid

 

About the book, Warwick’s Mermaid WarwicksMermaidbyEllieGray1800HR

  • Publication date : October 11, 2017
  • Publisher : Tirgearr Publishing (October 11, 2017)
  • Print length : 178 pages

Having escaped an abusive relationship, Chloe MacGregor is determined to put the past behind her. The little cottage high up on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Whitby is her safe haven, somewhere she is free to be herself.

When the arrival of her new neighbour and boss, Luke Warwick, threatens her peaceful, sheltered life, Chloe is forced to confront her past and to re-evaluate who she really is. Falling in love with Luke is not part of her plan but, to her surprise, Luke is falling for her too. The only thing preventing their happy ever after is Chloe herself. Will she ever truly learn to leave the past where it belongs?

Buy, read, and discuss this book:

Amazon | Apple | Kobo | Nook | Smashwords | Goodreads


About the author, Ellie Gray

Ellie GrayEllie says…

I’m a contemporary romance author, published with the lovely Tirgearr Publishing, and am a proud member of the Romantic Novelist Association. I live in the beautiful East Riding of Yorkshire in the UK and, although I work full-time in the public sector, my favourite pastime, when not writing, is wandering around old stately homes.

My debut novel, Beauty and the Recluse, was published in February 2016, closely followed by my second, Love on the Nile, which was released in the Summer of 2016. My third novel, Warwick’s Mermaid, was published in October 2017 and I’m currently working on my fourth.

A few random pieces of information about me:

  • Favourite TV shows – The Walking Dead, The X-Files, Nashville, Dr. Who, the Great British Bake-off.
  • Favourite Music – I’m an 80’s girl!, country, sixties, Elvis, classical (when I’m writing)
  • Favourite Food – Indian, tapas, crisps
  • Favourite Drink – black coffee (copious amounts when I’m writing) sauvignon blanc

Connect with Ellie:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter


My Thoughts

Melissa A. BartellEllie Gray is a new author to me, but I took a chance on this title because if you call yourself The Bathtub Mermaid (as I do) you cannot pass up anything with “mermaid” in the title. Of course the mermaid in this novel isn’t literal, but refers to Chloe, our protagonist, a well-rounded woman who loves to walk on the beach, collect shells, and play with her dog, a female shepherd named Jasper.

We first meet Chloe as she’s exiting an abusive relationship, and author Gray handled that plot point with great care and delicacy. It was never glossed over, and the experience colored many of Chloe’s later reactions and responses, but at the same time, it never overtook the the story. Balance is something a lot of authors never learn; Ellie Gray’s work on this novel exemplifies it.

The romance between Chloe and Luke was wonderful to read. Gray captured the reluctance of two complicated people to succumb to attraction, thus taking on further complications. Both characters were well drawn, but I also appreciated the supporting characters, especially Chloe’s friend Rebekah. (Her other friend, Lucie, made me want to throttle her for inconsiderate behavior, which just proves how talented Ellie Gray is!)

The story was well-paced, and the time spent on characters engaging in self-examination did not feel indulgent. Rather it was both organic and necessary, and I appreciated that Gray recognized that need.

No review of Warwick’s Mermaid can be considered complete without mentioning the Whitby beaches where Chloe walks. The descriptions of sand and sea were so vivid that I came away from some scenes with the urge to shake sand out of my own shoes. As someone who was nearly born on the beach, I was quite drawn to those scenes, and I love that the shore became a sort of silent character in this novel.

This novel is a lyrical, expressive story where there is as much of the main character falling in love with herself as there is with her falling in love with the male lead. It’s a deep and satisfying read that leaves you slightly wistful for a barefoot walk on the sand with someone holding your hand.

Goes well with any kind of fish stew – my favorite is cioppino, but choose what you will – and a glass of wine.


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