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Month in Review: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Hello, readers. Feels as if it was just yesterday that found me working up a "month in review." We've reached that day on the calendar. Here we have month six's "review," "rewind" or what have you, a compiling of... stuff. Basically it's a monthly post I throw together that recaps some of the blog's content and various other random things - for example, things I've found on the interwebs or me babbling about my latest TV obsession and the books I've read. We're marking the seventh-month date of this new year (what!?). Without further ado, let's get this month in review started.

Top (Eight) Books I've Read (And Am Reading) So Far In 2015


When it comes to bookish quirks, I have them. In abundance. This is why I don't normally talk about my favorite books (here) from the year until the end of it. This is when I put together the "best of..." lists. There's really no logical reason why except that I have fun doing it, and it's a tradition that works for this blog and me. But that being said, I'm never opposed to talking about some of the favorite books I've read in 2015. Which is why when today's topic appeared, I thought maybe it'd be nice to a.) talk about books that have come eerily close to the top of my favorites list or b.) the books I feel bad I've not talked about much, yet are so very worth any avid reader's discovery. The latter also might be books I may not have a chance to review because, much to my dismay, I've not read them thoroughly enough to review. But I know I enjoy them - and chances are, some of these will appear on that end-of-year list.

Year 5: The 2015 INSPY Award Winners

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Another season has arrived, another year of INSPY awards season has passed. Of course, what you'd all like to know is, which books won? But first, thanks and appreciation to all of the publishers and publicists who year after year help in making this program succeed. And of course, to my fellow Advisory Board members: thanks so much for making these awards fun year after year. Love working with you ladies. Most importantly, our judges! Following the terrific work of our six judging panels, our amazing judges - bloggers and readers, have carefully considered, and discussed the books, and gave of their time to participate. We had some veteran judges and some newbies who kindly applied, all of whom we were thrilled to welcome.

Today, the Advisory Board is thrilled to announce the seven novels that stand out as clear winners in their respective categories. Join us in congratulating all of the nominated authors and the seven authors who won this years INSPY Award.

From Inspys.com

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Book - Meant to be Mine
Contemporary Romance/Romantic Suspense, Meant to Be Mine (Bethany House) by Becky Wade: 

Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade is the epitome of Christian romance. The chemistry between Ty and Celia is fabulous, and we could feel the sparks in every interaction between them! While the romance is spectacular, this book has so much more to offer. Beautifully written, it is an emotional experience in the best way. Wade’s descriptions of the characters brought them to life, and their relational, emotional, and spiritual journeys rang true. The other four novels in this category are wonderful, but Meant To Be Mine’s excellence is unable to be denied.

Book - Miracle in a Dry SeasonDebut, Miracle in a Dry Season (Bethany House) by Sarah Loudin Thomas: 

We chose Miracle in a Dry Season not only because of the talent of the author, but because it is a unique and engaging story. A refreshing tale of miracles, love, and laughter set in the 1950s, Sarah Loudin Thomas pens an intriguing take based around the miracle of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. Through the story, characters – led by the primary character, Casewell, and events we gain a deeper understanding of faith and what it means to embrace the gifts and blessings God has given us.

General Fiction, Saving Amelie (Tyndale) by Cathy Golke: 
saving amelie

What a challenge, to pick one winner from five fabulous titles including Biblical, historical and contemporary fiction. We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2015 INSPY Award for General Fiction is Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke, which impressed us all with its complex characters, fascinating historical detail, and bold yet subtle Christian message. The story is set in Germany in the early days of World War II, and plot centres on rescuing the deaf Amelie, from her father and from a regime which prized “perfection” over the sanctity of life. The characters face danger, hardship and uncertainty over the course of this thought-provoking and sometimes harrowing read. We were particularly impressed with the sensitive way Gohlke showed how God can use ordinary people in the bleakest of circumstances.

Book - Mark of DistinctionHistorical Romance, Mark of Distinction (Tyndale) by Jessica Dotta: 

We chose Mark of Distinction because it exemplifies the historical romance genre and confronts unique spiritual themes. Jessica Dotta has woven a story with a captivating setting and characters. The writing style and mystery of the plot draws the reader from the beginning into a Victorian society of restraint, secrets, and consequences. At its center is the theme of full surrender and trust in God. With complex characters and a unique voice, the story unfolds with unexpected twists and romance.

Literature for Young Adult, Storm Siren (Thomas Nelson) by Mary Weber:

Book - Storm SirenOur panel decided to choose Storm Siren as the winner for the YA category. Nym deals with insecurities about her elemental powers and wondering why she was born with such a curse. This makes Nym relatable to young women all over the world and from every generation – we have all dealt with insecurities at some point in their lives. To see Nym have to come to terms with how she was created and to use those powers for the greater good shows tremendous character growth. Another reason we chose Storm Siren was because of the amazing and magical world that Mary Weber created. World building is one of the first things in a Fantasy novel that draws you into the story. Oh…and who doesn’t love a map inside their book!

Book - A.D. 30Mystery/Thriller, A.D. 30 (Center Street) by Ted Dekker:

A.D. 30 is a fast-paced adventure that keeps you turning the pages until the very end. Ted Dekker delivers a powerful, faith-filled story that brims with perils – each with their own kind of mystery and suspense, struggles, and most importantly hope. Dekker takes us on a journey to Jesus through the eyes of the daughter of Maviah, a gentile and an outcast, readers rediscover the message of Yeshua, experiencing it as never before. Dekker masterfully conveys the depth of God’s love for us — a knowledge we often hold in our heads, but fail to carry in our hearts. Warring kingdoms, power-thirsty adversaries, and fickle rulers are only a few of the obstacles in Maviah’s journey that keep the reader flipping pages. Whether she will succeed in her quest is a mystery. An uplifting and simple message, encased in a sweeping historical epic, is the primary reason it was selected it to be the winner of this year’s INSPY award.

Speculative Fiction, Spirit Bridge (Thomas Nelson) by James L.Rubart:

Book - Spirit BridgeSpirit Bridge is a brilliantly written story that was thought provoking and yet easy to follow as a standalone novel, though it is the third and final book in the Well Spring series. The story-world was populated with an excellent group of lead characters who were complex and easily relatable in their struggles in both the physical and spiritual realms. Their struggles challenge the reader to examine aspects of their own lives.  The story’s message, dying to self and keeping the enemy from gaining a foothold, was clear throughout, not getting lost in the suspense and action of the story. Spirit Bridge fully satisfies the reader’s expectations of the genre. It is a powerful spiritual thriller, with the speculative elements underpinning the novel and not requiring any further explanation to better understand it. Spirit Bridge is very worthy of the INSPY for Speculative Fiction.
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We’d like to thank our judges for their hard work and careful consideration of each title.

Congratulations to the winners and all the nominated authors! 

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If you'd like more information about the INSPYs award program, please visit our website at inspys.com. There you'll find all of our category description, past year's winners and our judging panels, and press releases.

A Coutnry Wedding (2015)

Saturday, June 27, 2015


With their race to the alter for a June wedding extravaganza, Hallmark’s third and final original movie airs tonight. I didn’t get to see the other two movies however this one is pretty darn cute. Oh yeah, and this love story will appeal to any of you who cannot resist a cowboy of a hero. This story is all about Bradley Suttons (Jesse Metcalfe). There has been nothing quite like Bradley’s debut album causing such a buzz in the country music scene, but now he’s making headlines again with the news he’s about to marry his Hollywood girlfriend Catherine (Laura Menell). But first, Bradley has to meet the pressures of writing his second album.
 
Instead he returns home to sell and liquidate some of his family’s old property – and house. Once there, he encounters his childhood friend, Sarah (Autumn Reeser). Sarah has become comfortable in her surroundings and despite Bradley’s wonderment that she stayed, she loves calling her family house, “home.” When being home stirs up memories for Bradley, he begins to believe there’s no more perfect place than on Sarah’s farm for his wedding location. But first, he’ll have to convince his high-strung bride of the location.

Another “season” (wedding) means another legitimate reason for Hallmark to roll out a series of new originals. I’m certainly glad they took advantage of this. This film puts a familiar face in the role of leading lady - Autumn Reeser, and gives us a story that is all small-town charm. Though familiar, I enjoyed the story and would definitely buy a copy should it ever arrive to DVD. The film’s message about reconnecting with your past and not just finding that place where happiness is more than a feeling but remembering what it feels like to truly come back to the place you experience happiness for more than a fleeting moment of fame. Bradley’s past makes it tough to surrender his protective (emotional) shields, and that means his journey is all the more poignant to watch. True, contained in these 90 minutes is a story ripe with tradition and a sweet script, but it does dig a little deeper and that is always worth a whole lot of fabulous. 
 

Two of my favorite things about the film was the wedding dress shopping trip and of course, Autumn’s performance. She does a fantastic job with Sarah and her acting is wonderful. Then there is Jesse’s debut in a role that requires singing. Yes, that’s right he sings the three songs that are exclusive to this film. And let me tell you, his voice is quite good. It’s been a while since I’ve seen this actor in something, an actor who starred in TNT’s Dallas and also the cute rom-com The Other End of the Line. Regardless Jesse was really perfect for the role. Basically, if you tune into this, you'll see plenty of cute romantics between our leading couple. Fans of the cast or Hallmark films should make a date with this original movie. It sparkles with old-fashioned charisma and doesn’t mind showing us a good time to boot. Make sure to save the date for A Country Wedding. If you do, you'll find characters with values, a wholesome story and be swept up in a romance that began with childhood sweethearts saying "I Do" in the haven of a barn...
 
Catch the premiere of A Country Wedding tonight, June 27th on Hallmark Channel. Until then, have a look at the promotional trailer.
 
 

Tell me, are you planning on watching A Country Wedding? Or have you seen either of the other two June Wedding movies? Share your favorite...

When Calls the Heart Season Two, Episode Seven (2015) – With All My Heart Recap

Friday, June 26, 2015

 
I’ll be honest. With exception to the two-hour (or ninety minutes if you were able to see it minus commercials) first episode, I did not keep up with the second season of When Calls the Heart. Sure I intended to. But I never got around to it. Too busy with other TV obsessions, I suppose. I finally watched the finale (for the purpose of an article) and thought I’d share some of my impressions with a kind of recap. Following a prolonged stay in Hamilton and various other events that have challenged their relationship, Jack (Daniel Lissing) and Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) are now back in Hope Valley. But they're fighting more than they are basking in the glow of courtship… and that first kiss. When Elizabeth accidently loses Jack’s dog, Rip, the pair of them must set out looking for him even with a storm threatening Hope Valley.

Abigail (Lori Loughlin) is facing another loss as Gowen (Martin Cummins) continues his pursuit of issuing threatening ultimatums. This time, it’s her café. She has no feelings left for Bill Avery (Jack Wagner), the man who once intrigued her (but is now occupied with his ex-wife) and is now contemplating the possibility of a new relationship with the mysterious and kind-hearted pastor (Mark Humphrey).  Moving back to the arguing couple, Jack and Elizabeth must take shelter from the storm in the mine and begrudgingly get some things out in the open. Jack believes Elizabeth is a different person when she’s with her family while Elizabeth finally admits to the heart of the reason she’s been pulling away from Jack: fear.  

Like its first season, When Calls the Heart’s second series is as charming as ever. It offers a sweet alternative to anyone who enjoys period drama but might not want to tangle with some potentially adult material or darker themes. Even when things look bleak, there is nothing “bad” really happening in this series. Even the sinister don’t cause us to shiver in the same way as notorious villains do and at its heart, is the relationship between Jack and Elizabeth. It might not always be perfect, but it is a pretty buffer that ensures nothing ever gets too dark. This episode covers not only reconciliations and threats, but also open-ended possibilities that will lead us into (presumably) season three.  

What surprised me about this season was the large part Elizabeth’s family played. Her sisters (major annoyance alert: Elizabeth's sister, Viola) have a presence they did not have in season one and her parents even reveal who they are as people (and let me tell you, it’s not pretty). Yes, I realize I didn’t see the entire season, but really all I skipped was five episodes (due to longer episodes this season which shortened the run to seven episodes total) and the finale does a brilliant job explaining all that has happened. Plus, as I mentioned I did see episode one 

The best faucets of this finale were the resolution between our beloved Jack and Elizabeth. The only minor fight I would maybe pick with this finale – and I know, it's miniscule – is Elizabeth’s indecision regarding the question posed to her at the very end. I get it was a set-up to ensure a cliffhanger and inspire another character to feel betrayal or heartbreak, but still… given my preference for women who don’t flip-flop in love, I’m not 100% happy with her right now. Elizabeth is all about proving herself as a kind of career woman, but there is also a side to her that enjoys comforts and the finer things in life, which as she points out, is not a negative quality. Regardless of what Jack may imply, Elizabeth has a good head on her shoulders (that scene in the mine and her outburst was necessary). Raise your hand if you think sticking Jack and Elizabeth in the mine together was a darn good idea. It was past due – they were both acting like petulant children methinks. Although, it does make for some entertaining TV.  


What it all comes down to is this: if you were obsessed with season one, you’re bound to love its sophomore season. There is love triangles, families breaking apart, dangers that crop up and shifting emotions. Plus, please tell me I'm not the only one who thought Rosemary's story was the cutest ever! The scripts continue to be wholesome fun throwing in pieces of flirty banter now and again. But I suspect what will whip fans into the greatest frenzy is this ending! Who’d have thought? And it all hinges on an answer to one question…

What about all of you: have you seen the finale? Did you like, dislike or fall somewhere in-between? Share your opinions on season two down below. I’m listening.

Watch 'With All My Heart.' 

Married 'til Monday by Denise Hunter

Thursday, June 25, 2015


About the Book:
Author: Denise Hunter
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher Provided (BookLook)
Publication Date: 2015
Find the Review elsewhere:
Find the Book Elsewhere:
Series: Chapel Springs, 4
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance, Inspirational
Rating: 5 out of 5 
The rest of the book really needs no more explanation or praise because it speaks for itself. Married ‘til Monday is a remarkably well crafted redemption story that speaks for itself. From the gorgeous image of intimate love on its cover to the final pages, the book shines with the purest kind of emotion.
When ranking Denise Hunter’s novels, like any reader, I certainly have my favorites. But each time I learn of a new novel from this seasoned author, excitement is more than a little off the charts and I am guaranteed a lovely read at the very least. As her latest four-book series draws to a close with this release, I saw my review copy patiently awaiting its turn to be read and after reading it, am left wondering how I delayed cracking open its pages this long. Those who’ve read all three of these familial novels will know that book four is about Ryan McKinley, the eldest sibling in the quartet of siblings. Ryan is one hero with a darkened past because of the marriage and divorce he proceeded through, now gone three years. When he learns that his ex-wife, Abby, has never confessed their divorce to her parents, Ryan invites himself to tag along on her return home for her parents anniversary party. Feeling led by God to pursue a fresh, mature and healthy relationship with Abby, Ryan sees this as his one opportunity to win back the trust of his ex, but Abby isn’t receptive to the same feelings as Ryan...  

You Letting me in, Abby... it felt like the most humbling privilege. Like you trusted me above everyone else. - Denise Hunter, Married 'Til Monday
Ryan’s story didn’t set out to be a reconciliation story (publicized in the author’s note), however I have to admit even back in book one, I had a sneaking suspicion Abby would work her way back into these books and the life – and heart, of Ryan McKinley. How happy I am to have had that inkling proven right. What’s unique about this story of second chances is that we had no opportunity to form an opinion of Abby. Or not much of one anyway. She was an established character in and to Ryan’s past however to us, the reader, it was as if we were being introduced to a new heroine and had to base our first impression off of that. All we had was the second hand opinions of the McKinley family. Mine would certainly be a favorable one. I adored Abby, and the interaction between she and Ryan is on-point. True she isn’t the most outgoing heroine, but there’s good reason for that. Through loving Ryan and eventually, recognizing the serious flaws she played in their marriage, she learns to live without the dark cloud hovering over her.  

Potential readers should know that when this story draws to a close, there are still fractured relationships in place. Don’t misunderstand, there is the happy ending we root for and need, but Denise doesn’t give one specific relationship a dab of super glue for a “quick fix.” No, she leaves this relationship where she found it and I respect that. The rest of the book really needs no more explanation or praise because it speaks for itself. Married ‘til Monday is a remarkably well crafted redemption story that speaks for itself. From the gorgeous image of intimate love on its cover to the final pages, the book shines with the purest kind of emotion. It’s bittersweet that with Ryan’s story, we’re closing out a chapter in the lives of a family we’ve come to love as friends. But fortunately, Denise also sets up her next (presumed) trilogy and with it, the anticipation that the three brothers’ we’re going to meet in Summer Harbor will quickly take up residence in our hearts. Until then, be sure to add Married ‘til Monday to your summer reading lists. Forgiveness, flirty banter and hilarity, emotional tumult and family all co-mingle to make this one of my favorite reads of 2015.  

Synopsis: With a big anniversary party in the works for her parents, Ryan will pretend to be Abby's husband for just one last weekend.

Ryan McKinley has tried to move on from his ex-wife, Abby. He’s sulked, he’s gotten angry, and ultimately he bought her dream house. Big mistake. Living alone in the massive 2-story has only made him miss her more. When her parents call him out of the blue about their anniversary party in Summer Harbor, Maine, Ryan believes God has dropped a golden opportunity straight in his lap.

Abby McKinley never exactly told her parents about the divorce. A strained relationship with her dad has culminated in a distant relationship with her parents, but she’s finally succumbed to her mom’s pressure to make the drive for their 35th-anniversary party.

Then Ryan shows up on her doorstep, looking as devastatingly handsome as ever. When he insists he’s going to Seabrook, with or without her, Abby knows she can’t say no. Her parents still think they’re married and now Ryan knows it too. Besides, he only wants to check in with his best friend from college—her cousin Beau, who just lost his dad. It’s just a one-week road-trip with the man who broke her heart. What could possibly go wrong? - Goodreads

 

Coming Next from Denise Hunter: Speeding north through rural Maine, Eden Martelli wonders how it ever came to this—on the run, with her mute five-year-old son dozing fitfully in the passenger seat. But when a breakdown leaves them stranded in Summer Harbor, Eden has no choice but to stay put through Christmas . . . even though they have no place to lay their heads.
 
Beau Callahan is a habitual problem-solver—for other people anyway. He left the sheriff’s department to take over the family Christmas tree farm, but he’s still haunted by the loss of his parents and struggling to handle his first Christmas season alone.

When Eden shows up looking for work just as Beau’s feisty aunt gets out of the hospital, Beau thinks he’s finally caught a break. Eden is competent and dedicated—if a little guarded—and a knockout to boot. But, as he soon finds out, she also comes with a boatload of secrets.

Eden’s been through too much to trust her heart to another man, but Beau is impossible to resist, and the feeling seems to be mutual. As Christmas Eve approaches Eden’s past catches up to her.

Beau will go to the ends of the earth to keep her safe. But who’s going to protect his heart from a woman who can’t seem to trust again? - Amazon, September 2015

Sincere thanks to BookLook Bloggers and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

Cover Candy, Edition 27

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

This week, HarpterTeen revealed a bunch of their early 2016 covers (which most of you probably saw).Yet here we are. I thought I'd share them anyway, you know, just in case you wanted a place to rant, gush or swoon over any. Beyond that, I found a few other cover pretties that you've probably seen on Twitter or the like. But hey, that's okay. I'm still putting this together and publishing it.

Below are some beautiful covers, some anticipated books from favorite authors and some newbies - oh, yes, and a U.K. edition of a book I'm tempted to order from Amazon.co.uk - and synopsis's that don't yet have a cover. But if they show up anywhere in the next two days, I'll add them.

You're all invited to gush over your favorites. If you like. Let's begin.

The Red Door Inn* by Liz Johnson


Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she’s hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn’t move three thousand miles to work on his uncle’s B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian–and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.

The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just a couple months will take everything they’ve got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

Step into the Red Door Inn, a lovely home away from home tucked along the fabled north shore of Prince Edward Island. It’s a place where the wounded come to heal, the broken find forgiveness, and the lonely find a family. Won’t you stay for the season? - LizJohnsonBooks.com, March 2016

Amazon ǀ Goodreads

*Yes, a purposeful out of order (A-Z) title for the sake of the "featured" post element. I need a really good photo for "featured" and this one (resolution, size) fit the bill - plus, um, it's gorgeous!

Diplomatic Immunity by Brodi Ashton

A standalone novel about a recent scholarship recipient who sets out to expose debauchery at her exclusive private school in Washington, D.C., only to find herself falling in love with the baddest boy of all. - Goodreads, In stores in 2016

Amazon ǀ Goodreads

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

If there's one thing Mare Barrow knows, it's that she's different.

Mare Barrow's blood is red — the color of common folk — but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince — the friend — who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: She is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?
 - Goodreads, February 2016

Amazon ǀ Goodreads

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell


Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again. - Goodreads, September 2015

Amazon ǀ Goodreads

Shade Me by Jennifer Brown


Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.

Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill. - Goodreads, January 2016


Amazon ǀ Goodreads

Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti



In Stores April 2016

Amazon ǀ Goodreads 

The Siren by Kiera Cass (Re-Release)

"You must never do anything that might expose our secret. This means that, in general, you cannot form close bonds with humans. You can speak to us, and you can always commune with the Ocean, but you are deadly to humans. You are, essentially, a weapon. A very beautiful weapon. I won't lie to you, it can be a lonely existence, but once you are done, you get to live. All you have to give, for now, is obedience and time..." The same speech has been given hundreds of times to hundreds of beautiful girls who enter the sisterhood of sirens. Kahlen has lived by these rules for years now, patiently waiting for the life she can call her own. But when Akinli, a human, enters her world, she can't bring herself to live by the rules anymore. Suddenly the life she's been waiting for doesn't seem nearly as important as the one she's living now. - Goodreads, January 2016

Amazon ǀ Goodreads

Amazon ǀ Goodreads

Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman


Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything. This is their story.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay. - Goodreads, February 2016


Amazon ǀ Goodreads

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro


The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock's genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other. - March 2016


Amazon ǀ Goodreads

The Preacher's Lady by Lori Copeland


In the first book of the Sugar Maple Hearts series, acclaimed author Lori Copeland spins a tale of hope, understanding, and faith when God seems silent.

It's 1855, and Elly Sullivan works on her family cranberry farm in Wisconsin. She's pledged her unending love to Bo Garrett.

At seventeen, Bo rides off for a month--just a month--to see a little of the world before he settles down with Elly. He falls in with the wrong people and the wrong life. His promises to Elly and the Lord are forgotten in a misspent youth. Eight years too late, he returns, having come to the end of himself and rededicated his life to God.

Can Bo convince Elly they were meant to be together despite all the bumps in their path? - Amazon, March 2016

Amazon ǀ Goodreads

The Imposter Queen by Sarah Fine


Sixteen-year-old Elli was a small child when the Elders of Kupari chose her to succeed the Valtia, the queen who wields infinitely powerful ice and fire magic. Since then, Elli has lived in the temple, surrounded by luxury and tutored by magical priests, as she prepares for the day when the Valtia perishes and the magic finds a new home in her. Elli is destined to be the most powerful Valtia to ever rule.

But when the queen dies defending the kingdom from invading warriors, the magic doesn’t enter Elli. It’s nowhere to be found.

Disgraced, Elli flees to the outlands, the home of banished criminals—some who would love to see the temple burn with all its priests inside. As she finds her footing in this new world, Elli uncovers devastating new information about the Kupari magic, those who wield it, and the prophecy that foretold her destiny. Torn between the love she has for her people and her growing loyalty to the banished, Elli struggles to understand the true role she was meant to play. But as war looms, she must align with the right side—before the kingdom and its magic are completely destroyed. - Goodreads, January 2016


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Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth


WHO KILLED GRETCHEN MEYER?

Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been? - Goodreads, February 2016


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Map of Fates by Maggie Hall


Two weeks.

That’s how long it took for Avery West’s ordinary life to change forever: In two weeks, she discovered she was heiress to a powerful secret society known as the Circle, escaped an arranged marriage, and learned her mother was taken hostage by the Circle’s enemies.

Now, Avery crosses oceans in private jets to hunt for clues that will uncover the truth about the Circle, setting her mom and herself free. By her side are Jack—steady, loyal, and determined to help her even at the expense of his own duty—and Stellan, whose connection to Avery grows stronger by the day, making her question what she believes at every turn.

At the end of a desperate hunt from the islands of Greece to the red carpet at Cannes comes a discovery that could bring the entire world to its knees. And now Avery is forced to face the truth: in the world of the Circle, no one is what they seem. - Goodreads, March 2016

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Thin Ice by Irene Hannon


After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again--until an envelope addressed in her sister’s hand arrives in the mail. The note inside claims she is still alive. FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive—who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game—or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda. - Goodreads, January 2016

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A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund


In stores March 2016

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Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund


Tessa Taylor arrives in 1870s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, planning to serve as a new teacher to the town. Much to her dismay, however, she immediately learns that there was a mistake, that the town had requested a male teacher. Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since they won't be able to locate a new teacher before then, and Tessa can't help but say she is in his debt. Little does she know that Percival will indeed keep track of all that she owes him.

Determined to become indispensable, Tessa throws herself into teaching, and soon the children of the widowed lighthouse keeper have decided she's the right match for their grieving father. Their uncle and assistant light keeper, Alex Bjorklund, has his own feelings for Tessa. As the two brothers begin competing for her hand, Tessa increasingly feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her. - Amazon, January 2016

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The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig


Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance. - Goodreads, February 2016


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The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins


Kill the beast. Win the girl.

A strange beast stirs fear in the kingdom of Lochlanach, terrorizing towns with its brutality and hunger. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity understands her duty to the kingdom though it pains her to imagine marrying a stranger. It would be foolish to set her sights on any particular man in the great hunt, but when a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention, there’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not keen on marriage. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast and protecting his family—yet Princess Aerity continues to challenge his notions with her unpredictability and charm. But as past secrets collide with present desires, dire choices threaten everything Paxton holds dear.

Inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ tale, “The Singing Bone,” New York Times bestselling author Wendy Higgins delivers a dark fantasy filled with rugged hunters, romantic tension, outlawed magic, and a princess willing to risk all to save her people. - Goodreads, March 2016


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Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan


Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

With lush writing and a star–crossed romance, Reign of Shadows is Sophie Jordan at her best.
 - Goodreads, February 2016

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Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


A year ago, Flynn Cormac and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. Nobody knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck—now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.

Now, in the center of the universe on the planet of Corinth, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring the fight against LaRoux Industries to a head. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker—a whiz kid and an urban warrior. He’ll climb, abseil and worm his way past the best security measures to pull off onsite hacks that others don’t dare touch.

Sofia Quinn has a killer smile, and by the time you’re done noticing it, she’s got you offering up your wallet, your car, and anything else she desires. She holds LaRoux Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquarters, they’re forced to work together to escape. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance they have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide. - Goodreads, December 2015


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A Season to Wed by Cindy Kirk, Rachel Hauck and Cheryl Wyatt


They’ve helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples. Now twelve new couples will find themselves in the wedding spotlight in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

Love at Mistletoe Inn by Cindy Kirk

Sometimes the road to happiness is paved with youthful mistakes.

Ten years after what she thought was her almost-wedding, Hope Prentiss discovers that the ceremony counted—and, as fate would have it, the jilted John Burke has just ridden back into town. After spending some time with John and helping plan a Christmas wedding for a mystery couple, Hope begins to wonder if she really wants a divorce . . . or a real wedding of her own.

A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck

Revealing the beauty in other women might be Ginger Winters’s specialty—but it will take an unexpected kind of love to help Ginger see the beauty in herself.

Ginger Winters will be the “beauty-maker” for the Alabama society wedding of the decade.
But when high-school crush Tom Wells shows up looking for a haircut, Ginger’s thinly veiled insecurities threaten to keep her from love once again . . . despite Tom’s best efforts.

Serving Up a Sweetheart by Cheryl Wyatt

Meadow knows how to serve delicious food to match any wedding theme. But can she accept love when it's served up on a silver platter?

Meadow Larson is having the mother of all Mondays when her roof caves in during a blizzard, right before the most important wedding contract of her career.

Renovation contractor Colin McGrath offers to fix Meadow’s roof, even though he knows he is the last person she would accept help from.

But the more Meadow gets to know the new Colin, the more she realizes God may have something more permanent in store than a new catering kitchen. - Amazon, November 2015
 
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After Alice by Gregory McGuire


From the multi-million-copy bestselling author of Wicked comes a magical new twist on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Lewis's Carroll's beloved classic

When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice's disappearance?

In this brilliant new work of fiction, Gregory Maguire turns his dazzling imagination to the question of underworlds, undergrounds, underpinnings — and understandings old and new, offering an inventive spin on Carroll's enduring tale. Ada, a friend of Alice's mentioned briefly in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, is off to visit her friend, but arrives a moment too late — and tumbles down the rabbit hole herself.

Ada brings to Wonderland her own imperfect apprehension of cause and effect as she embarks on an odyssey to find Alice and see her safely home from this surreal world below the world. If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life. Either way, everything that happens next is "After Alice." - Goodreads, October 2015


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Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson


Now Available
 
 

When I Wake by Elizabeth Norris

Winter's Bone meets Boardwalk Empire. It takes place in present day, but in a world where Prohibition was never repealed. Seventeen-year-old Maya Whitaker is forced into working as a criminal informant for the Feds in an effort to take down the current king of organized crime, despite the fact that she's falling in love with his heir apparent, nineteen-year-old Charlie Hollier.- Goodreads, 2015

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Once Upon a Kiss by Robin Palmer


It's 1986 and sixteen-year-old Zoe Brenner's world revolves around Depeche Mode, Judd Nelson, exercise-obsessed parents, and her best friend Jonah. Then one day, in a freak Fun-Dip choking accident, Zoe falls unconscious, and awakes in the year 2016. So much has changed, and Zoe needs Jonah to help her make sense of it all. But in this life, Zoe is the most popular girl in school, and she soon realizes this Zoe doesn't associate with nerds like Jonah. As Zoe juggles new technology, attempts to hide her enthusiasm for poet blouses, and manages to keep her super jock boyfriend at bay, she tries to rekindle her friendship with Jonah and use her popularity for a good cause. Will she ever get back to 1986? And more importantly, does she want to? - Goodreads, January 2016

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Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie


Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. One mistake, one small failure, will cost her own life and the lives of the few people left in the world who still trust her.

But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, her feelings easily usurped, and she sometimes can’t decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.

BURNING GLASS is debut author Kathryn Purdie’s stunning tale of dangerous magic, heart-rending romance, and the hard-won courage it takes to let go.- Goodreads, March 2016


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The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine


Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.
- Goodreads, February 2016

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The New Guy (and Other Senior Distractions) by Amy Spalding


A ridiculously cute, formerly famous, new guy dropping into your life? It’s practically every girl’s dream.
 
But not Jules McCallister-Morgan’s.
 
I realize that on paper I look like your standard type-A, neurotic, overachiever. And maybe I am. But I didn’t get to be the editor of my school’s long-revered newspaper by just showing up*. I have one main goal for my senior year — early acceptance into my first choice Ivy League college — and I will not be deterred by best friends, moms who think I could stand to “live a little,” or boys. 
At least, that was the plan before I knew about Alex Powell**.
 
And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.
 
I know what you’re thinking: Calm down, Jules. But you don’t understand. This stuff matters. This is my life. And I’m not going down without a fight.
 
* Okay, I sort of did. But it’s a sore subject.
 
** I mean, I guess everyone knows about Alex Powell? Two years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about viral video boy band sensation Chaos 4 All. Two years ago, Alex Powell was famous.
 
*** Some people think I’m overreacting. But this. Means. War. - Pop Goes the Reader Blog, April 2016
 
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Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck. - Goodreads, May 2016

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Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin

For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. She loves the wartime challenges of her new job but spurns the attention of society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg, even if Arch is her brother’s best friend. During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the US East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the prescriptions Lillian has received for unusually large quantities of sedatives? As Lillian and Arch work together to uncover a black market drug ring, Arch tries to earn Lillian’s trust and her affection. But can they overcome the dangers that face them from torpedoes, drug lords—and opened hearts? - Goodreads, 2016

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Burn by Elissa Sussman


After helping to rescue Princess Aislynn, Elanor has finally rejoined the rebel camp she calls home. Stolen from her parents at a young age and forced into service by the Wicked Queen, Elanor now wants nothing more than to see the queen removed from power. But Elanor has secrets, mistakes she’s spent years trying to forget, and the closer the rebels get to the throne, the harder it is for Elanor to keep her past hidden away.

With fellow rebels on her side—including Princess Aislynn, Thackery, and the handsome and mysterious Matthias—it is time for Elanor to make a decision. Will she protect her secrets? Or risk everything to save the people she loves?

The thrilling companion to Elissa Sussman’s masterful and original fairy tale, Stray, that will appeal to readers of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and fans of Wicked, Into the Woods, and the Disney princess movies.
 - Goodreads, January 2016

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Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas


Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss, Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale. But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king’s tyrannical rule, even if it means travelling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan—someone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan’s kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power—something so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them—she begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before…and uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before. - Goodreads, February 2016


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The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White


Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough—not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar and the men who have jeopardized her life.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has suddenly found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of his neighbor, Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when the moody Earl of Lochabar tries to trap Brice into marrying Rowena, Brice finds he’s not as opposed to the idea as he expected to be.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to resort to marrying a notorious flirt just to gain his English home. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in some kind of questionable business with a stolen treasure, she ’fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.
 - Goodreads, 2015

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The question left is this: which is your favorite? And which books are going on your must lists?
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