#TwelveDaysOfChristmasRomance #BlogTour: Falling For The Baldasseri Prince by Rebecca Winters

For this next entry in the Twelve Days Of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a solid and short tale with a possibly questionable ending that you should absolutely read and decide for yourself about. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Falling For The Baldasseri Prince by Rebecca Winters.

Solid, Short, Semi-Questionable Ending. This is a fairly standard-ish modern royal romance ala a cross between Hallmark and Princess Diaries. And along that vein, it works quite well and particularly given its short-ish (18o ish page) length, manages to pack quite a bit of story into this tale. My biggest question is whether or not the author put too much sex in the tale – even if in just about the most chaste way possible – for it to truly qualify as a “clean romance”. Beyond that particular point though, truly a well told story with arguably extraneous ending material. But even with these last two points… read it for yourself and decide for yourself. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: The Shoe Diaries by Darby Baham

For this entry in the Twelve Days Of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a tale that is, at its core, essentially a Black Sex And The City. For this blot tour, we’re looking at The Shoe Diaries by debut author Darby Baham.

Essentially A Black Sex And The City. This story is essentially Sex And The City, but replacing the mostly white cast with a mostly black one and replacing the “city” in question with DC. Same shoe fetish (though possibly amplified here?), used remarkably well as a plot device in this particular case. Same big oops moment with a former flame early on, only for the book to ultimately become a second chance romance later – with an interesting interlude in between. Minor discussions of the HBCU life and the central character wanting to be much more radical as a professional journalist than the “stodgy old white men” are allowing her to be, but at least here said “old white dudes” aren’t thinly veiled racist caricatures, as so many similar novels from less talented authors have done. (The desire to be more radical is more central than the HBCU mentions, to be clear.) Overall a strong tale that will clearly play well with a couple of demographics in particular, but may not be something that will play as well in a more general audience. Still, excellent book and very much recommended.

(Also, I should note that I’ve never watched a single full episode of anything in the Sex And The City franchise and only know the *general* plot from it being in the zeitgeist so much.)

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: The Five-Day Reunion by Mona Shroff

For this entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a grounded yet funny fake marriage romance… during a traditional Indian wedding week! For this blog tour entry, we’re looking at The Five-Day Reunion by Mona Shroff.

Solid Second Chance Romance. This is one of those second chance / forced proximity / fake dating types of romance tales, all combined during a five day traditional Indian wedding celebration. The angst between the two leads is palpable, and their own individual motivations are solidly grounded. The Indian family interventions – and ensuing irritating (for the characters) hilarity (for the readers) hijinx – are well done, and Shroff does well to explain the various ceremonies reasonably well in-story so that those not familiar with them can follow along and not get lost in the story, yet not so much that it becomes an academic treatise on each ceremony. Overall a fun, funny, and short-ish (220 ish page) romance that gives a solid break from reality for many, and really… isn’t that most of what we expect a book to do? Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Her Hometown Hero by Jacquelin Thomas

For this next entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series we’re looking at a romance tale that still provides a solidly realistic look at the lives of combat veterans – and specifically, Marines – as they come back from our modern wars broken in more ways than one. For this blog tour, we’re looking at Her Hometown Hero by Jacquelin Thomas.

Solidly Realistic Jarhead Romance. This is a very grounded, very realistic romance novel featuring two 30s ish adults who grew up together before traveling different paths in their 20s, only to wind up back in their hometown. Both backstories are very grounded with the issues they portray (even as the author combines the location name of the Carolina Panthers with the team name of the New England Patriots to create her in-world NFL team ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), and the author treats both tragic backstories with the respect and care they are due. And manages to create a much more realistic romance novel because of it. This one is more for the clean/ sweet crowd, though there are a couple of things here that may have at least some in that crowd “needing the vapors” (including the female lead staying overnight at the male lead’s house – though sleeping in separate bedrooms, in keeping with the “clean” mandate). Excellent story of finding romance even after major loss and tragedy, and very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: New Year Kiss With His Cinderella by Annie O’Neil

For this New Year’s Eve entry into the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at book I specifically chose to run on this day due to its setting at New Year’s Eve and which is actually much better than the description indicates. For this entry, we’re looking at New Year Kiss With His Cinderella by Annie O’Neil.

Better Than Described. The actual second meeting of our lead couple is actually much better than described here – they meet on New Year’s Eve night randomly at a mechanical bull ride, share a magical moment there as the clock winds down on the year, then the next day, the narrative focus is on her at work when a bunch of newbies are introduced… including the man she kissed at midnight and thought she’d never see again. Yes, this is a dual narrative tale, and it absolutely works here. Both of our leads are caring medical professionals with deeply troubling (and very real) issues outside of the hospital, and the drama here is fairly tight. As is typical with much of the genre, this does include a few sex scenes, so the clean/ sweet crowd… eh, this probably won’t be for you. For everyone else… those scenes are fairly well done. Enough to get the pulse racing without being *too* problematic if someone sees/ hears what you’re reading. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Overall a solid romance featuring great, Hallmarkie type characters. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: His Road To Redemption by Lisa Jordan

For this next entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series, we’re looking at a solid romance in its own right that seems to be the conclusion, and likely significant payoff in various ways, of a four book The Waltons type saga where each book focuses on a different brother. For this blog tour, we’re looking at His Road To Redemption by Lisa Jordan.

Conclusion Of Modern Day Waltons Saga. If you’re a fan of the old-school Waltons or Little House on the Prairie or the newer shows like Heartland, this book is absolutely right up your alley. These IPs show that the market for this kind of tale is strong, so it is actually great to find a book that fits in fairly perfectly with them. Just be warned that although this isn’t (currently?) marked as Book 4 of a series, it actually *is* Book 4, following Season of Hope (Book 1), A Love Redeemed (Book 2), and The Father He Deserves (Book 3), and seems to serve as a finale for this series. Thus, all three brothers from the first three books show up, as Micah (our hero here) seems to have been at least introduced in Book 1 and is now being brought forth to claim his destiny as a romance hero in his own right here. Having not read the other three books, it clearly seems as though there are significant payoffs for potentially series-running plot threads here – I just don’t know. So the long and short of this review is that while this book is a strong Waltons-type romance in its own right, featuring newer, more modern plotlines (including animals-as-therapy and group homes for homeless veterans)… I actually do recommend reading the first three books of this series before reading this one, which isn’t something I usually say about such tales but truly is fairly critical here. And I’m sure that by the time you’ve finished those other three, you’re going to want this one anyway. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social media and buy links.
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#BookReview: The Taste Of Ginger by Mansi Shah

Blatant Racism Deeply Mars Otherwise Universal Story. This is, without a shred of a doubt, the most racist book I’ve seen published this Millenium, at minimum – and to think that the normally *very* solid Lake Union Publishing allowed it under their banner is very discouraging, indeed. While I would never say a book should not be published at all, this is one that no major company – particularly one so large as Amazon – that claims to stand for diversity, inclusion, and equity should ever stand behind. White / America is EVIL according to Shah, and everything wrong in Preeti’s life is because she had to try to fit in with “White America”. Bullcrap. You take the commentary about everything White and/ or American being so evil out of this tale and look at just the remaining elements of struggling to fit in, to find oneself despite parental desires, to have your parents accept you as an adult… and you’ve got a universal tale that applies no matter the race. *Everyone* goes through these struggles, even in cultures where it appears different. But no, Shah here had to go the racist route and destroy what would have otherwise been a solid, maybe even transcendental, work. While some might think I’m being a bit generous here with 3* based on this write-up, the univeral elements here were done quite well while examining their particulars within Indian culture, particularly looking at both the Indian Diaspora and Indians who never leave the subcontinent – nor want to. And that is where I am confident in still allowing it the three, despite such blatant and rampant racism. Recommended, begrudgingly.

This review of The Taste Of Ginger by Mansi Shah was originally written on December 29, 2021.

#BlogTour: The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard

For this blog tour we’re looking at an interesting story of love, forgiveness, repentance, restorative justice, prison reform, and penance that could perhaps have used a better storytelling approach. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard.

Interesting Story, Perhaps Better Served By A Different Storytelling Technique. This is an interesting story of what happens after a person who has been accused of a heinous crime is released from prison and the toll wrought on the person and their family and friends – particularly in the face of continued harassment from the community. Readers who hate multi-perspective stories will enjoy the fact that we only really get one perspective here, but this is actually the weakest thing about the book to my own mind. For me, having a multi-perspective book with the prisoner’s mother (the perspective we get here), the prisoner, and maybe even the stranger and the victim’s mother, would have made this story quite a bit tighter and potentially, assuming it was done right, that much more interesting. The issues that the book does explore well – restorative justice, repentance, forgiveness, mother’s love, etc – could have been further strengthened by this other technique as well. Still, for what we do get here, it is fairly solid but not “edge of your seat” reading. If you go into this expecting a thrill-a-minute… you’re reading the wrong dang book. But if you look at this more as a character study / family drama with elements of suspense and thriller, you’re likely going to leave this book more satisfied. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
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#TwelveDaysOfRomance #BlogTour: Buried Cold Case Secrets by Sami A Abrams

For this entry in the Twelve Days of Romance blog tour series we’re looking at a solid Christian Fiction romantic suspense novel ala Dee Henderson. For this entry, we’re looking at Buried Cold Case Secrets by debut author Sami A Abrams.

Solid Tale Of Its Type. So apparently “Inspired” / “Inspirational” is code for “Christian” in American marketing parlance (I guess similar to how “family friendly” is code for “kids”?). Did not know this going in (or, more likely, had known it long ago and forgotten over the years since I left that world behind). Thus, I was quite surprised to see a Christian Fiction book on the same blog tour schedule (well, emails sent within a few minutes of each other anyway, though in fairness there were a few different sets and I’ve picked up books from all of them) as some other… steamier… books, one of which I had just read earlier in the same day as this one. ๐Ÿ™‚

My semi-shock at stumbling into a Christian Fiction tale published by Harlequin aside (and kudos to them for reaching out to *all* segments of their market), this tale was actually quite solid. Reminded me a bit of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley Family series many years ago in that the suspense was high wire level tight, the leads worked well together personally and professionally, and the religious aspects were at least worked in as every day parts of the characters’ lives and thus never truly preachy. And hell, the actual mystery at hand was actually sufficiently creepy that fans of the general romantic suspense genre will find quite a bit to enjoy here – so long as you don’t mind praying. (I know of at least some readers who absolutely will not touch a book that mentions God or prayer *at all*, *no matter what*. If you’re that level… yeah, this book isn’t for you. If you’re at least ambivalent about that particular feature and just looking for a great suspense tale… you’re gonna like this one.) As I said in the title here, this is truly a solid tale of its type, and thus it is very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
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Featured New Release Of The Week: My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle

This week we’re looking at the perfect book to end your 2021 with a bang reading. This week we’re looking at My Darling Husband by Kimberly Belle.

Hole E Sheet! Belle tosses us into the fire from the get-go… and only turns up the gas. All the way until the closing moments. If you’re a fan of Panic Room / The Purge type thrillers, you’re going to *love* this one, where roughly half of the action takes place as a stranger holds a family inside their house – with the other half being the husband/ father of the family racing to try to save them. An interesting story mechanic is also thrown in for good measure, and between the heavy foreshadowing with this and the frequent (usually chapter heading) timestamps driving just how quickly the clock is turning to the pivotal moment… you really are in for a wild ride with this one. There *is* some minor commentary late that is more YMMV, and while it does speak to motivations (as close as I’ll get to mentioning anything remotely specific), it isn’t actually truly essential to anything. Which is why its inclusion is a bit of an irritating note in the aftertaste of the book but isn’t any real reason to like the book any less. If you want to end your year on a bang… you might consider making sure you have this book when it releases in the week between Christmas and New Year’s 2021. ๐Ÿ™‚ Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt followed by the various “publisher details”, including the official description of the book, an author bio, social media links, and buy links.
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