Hot Summer Nights….

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am EXCITED that summer is finally here! Living in Western New York, I wait all winter long, trudging through monstrous snow storms, slipping on ice, wearing hideous looking boots and drinking gallons of hot chocolate…. JUST to get to these long, hot days of summer! I lay in my apartment at night under three comforters with my heat set to 74 and pray that I don’t wake up to a blizzard. All the while dreaming about sunshine-y summer days, margaritas on the patio, grilled hot dogs and walking my dog without being bundled in twenty layers of clothes. My favorite part of summer is the beach- without a doubt. I sit on the beach, sipping sweet tea and reading good books until my skin looks like a golden delicious apple and there is sand in places where sand should never be! My daughter and I are shameless beach bunnies and I don’t even care what I look like in a bathing suit- it’s all about the rays and the relaxation.

But really, who can name just one thing they love about summer? I’m a huge griller-er and pretty much every single day of the summer I’m grilling at least one meal, if not all three. Everything goes on the grill! I search online and through countless cookbooks looking for new recipes to grill up, and so far I have been pretty successful. For instance, tonight I am grilling hot chicken Italian sausage, garlic corn on the cob and zucchini that I have had marinating in Italian dressing and herbs all day! Doesn’t that sound yummy?

Every year my sisters and I and our 13 children plan a huge camping trip that takes up three camp sites, countless bottles of bug spray and hundreds of juice boxes and marshmallows.  It is absolutely wonderful.  We plan all winter for this big, crazy trip and all of the kids get excited for the bonfires and swimming and hiking!  I will take all of that, if we could somehow make the bugs leave the forest for the long weekend that I am there inhabiting their world :).

I have also discovered very recently that I love gardening, even though I may possibly kill all the poor little veggies that were unfortunate enough to be picked by me at the farmers market. I have been known as the “black thumb” of the family, but that will not stop me from trying! I’m currently trying my hand at growing tomatoes, eggplant, banana peppers, strawberries, basil and thyme. I figure 6 is a nice, round number and if they work out next summer maybe I will plant 12. Baby steps is my way of thinking.

So, how about all of our readers out there? Any other beach lovin’ grill-ers out there?! Tell me your favorite summer activity/recipe/anything you want about summer and be entered to win a copy of Hot Summer Nights by Luann Mclane!

May RRAH reviews ….

Hello my bookworms!!

Have you noticed it’s middle of May already?! This is ridiculous! This year’s just flying away from me…I’m still recuperating from my January fall and felling better some days, and then there are some that just plain suck… The weather’s not helping much either…Some days are outright gloomy, and then some are so warm and sunny that make me want to be a cat and just lazy around the house….

Even with my mood swings I managed to read and review some of the books Nancy from Romance Reader At Heart had sent me, so here they are….

Shall I start with the ones I liked, then slowly end with the ones that disappointed me a bit? Okay, you talked me into it!

LOVE FOREVERMORE by Madeline Baker

The West – it had been Loralee’s dream for as long as she could remember, and Indians were the most fascinating part of the wildly beautiful frontier she imagined. But when Loralee arrived at Fort Apache as the new schoolmarm, she had some hard realities to learn..and a harsh taskmaster to teach her.

Shad Zuniga was fiercely proud, aloof, a renegade Apache who wanted no part of the white man’s world, not even its women. Yet Loralee was driven to seek him out, compelled to join him in a forbidden union, forced to become an outcast for one slim chance at LOVE FOREVERMORE.

“Once in a while, I’ll venture out of my comfy regency ‘zone’ and stumble on a real ‘gem’ of a book. This is the case with LOVE FOREVERMORE.” – Melanie

LORD MIDNIGHT by Donna Cummings

Gabriel DeVault, a dashing highwayman, lives to avenge himself against the uncle who stole his title and tried to kill him as a child. One night’s robbery yields unexpected riches when his uncle’s spirited bride-to-be falls into Gabriel’s arms. Now his plans for vengeance include seduction of the innocent miss, in the home that once was his own.

Marisa Dunsmore is blackmailed into wedding the cold and calculating Edmund DeVault, Lord Westbrook, to protect her beloved aunt. When her attempts to escape the upcoming marriage fail, she turns for help to the man she knows as Lord Midnight, entrusting him with her love, and her future.

Soon Gabriel must choose: saving the woman who stole his heart, or destroying the man who stole his life.

“I’m giving this story a Top Pick rose because it’s well written with three-dimensional characters (and some secondary ones that are memorable as well), fast paced with witty dialogue, and in one word: DELICIOUS.” – Melanie

TEXAS BRIDE by Joan Johnston

Miranda Wentworth never imagined becoming a mail-order bride. Now marriage to a stranger is her only hope of finding a home where she and her two younger brothers can escape the brutality of the Chicago orphanage where they live. With any luck, she can even start a family of her own, once the three of them are settled at Jacob Creed’s Texas ranch. But Miranda has one gigantic concern: Her husband-to-be knows nothing about the brothers she’s bringing along. What if he calls off the deal when he discovers the trick she’s played on him?

Jake Creed is hanging on to his Texas ranch by his fingernails. His nemesis, Alexander Blackthorne, is determined to ruin him. Jake will never give up, but he’s in desperate trouble. His wife died six months ago in childbirth, along with their stillborn son, and his two-year-old daughter needs a mother. The advertisement Jake wrote never mentioned his daughter—or the fact that he has no intention of consummating his marriage. He’s determined never to subject another wife to the burden of pregnancy. But Jake doesn’t count on finding his bride so desirable. He doesn’t count on aching with need when she joins him in bed. And he never suspected his bride would have plans of her own to seduce him.

“I am all in knots waiting for WYOMING BRIDE (Hannah’s story), MONTANA BRIDE (Hetty’s story) and BLACKTHORNE’S BRIDE (Josie’s story). I am not a patient person, so I’m reading all her books while waiting for these to hit the shelves or my Kindle.” – Melanie

PERFECT STRANGERS by Rebecca Sinclair

Gabrielle Carelton is one of Queen Elizabeth’s most devoted ladies-in-waiting. But her loyalty is put to the test when Her Majesty commands her to marry Scotsman Collin Douglas. When Gabrielle is kidnapped by Collin’s twin brother, not even Good Queen Bess can save her.

Dubbed the Black Douglas, devilishly handsome Connor is known throughout the land for his magnificent feats of strength and cunning. But now he is in need of an heir. An English bride will bring peace to the warring nations — and give him the son he craves. What he doesn’t expect is a woman as passionate as she is proud … and a desire that knows no boundaries.

Set against the pageantry and savage splendor of 16th-century England and Scotland, here is the story of a man and a woman who begin as enemies and strangers — and find a love that will triumph against all odds.

“All I have to say is, WOW! This book blurb doesn’t do this book justice.” – Melanie

HOW TO SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL by Vicky Dreiling

Miss Julianne Gatewick is in a pickle. It started when her brother’s best friend-for whom she’s long nursed a secret tendre-agreed to act as her guardian for the Season, only to seduce her with a risqué waltz. But when the music stopped and the expectant ton waited for Marc Darcett, Earl of Hawkfield, to claim her as his own, he made his disinterest clear. Rather than succumb to humiliation, Julianne does what any self-respecting, recently discarded young miss with a wicked sense of humor would do. She secretly pens a lady’s guide to enticing unrepentant rakes . . . and it becomes the hottest scandal sheet in London.

Every honorable rake knows that friends’ sisters are forbidden. But suddenly Julienne has a spark of mischief in her eyes that Hawk can’t resist. Try as he might to push her away, he spends his days listening for her laughter and his nights dreaming of kissing her senseless. He’s always avoided innocents and their marriage-minded mothers, but has the man least likely to wed finally met his match?

“There’s a lot to recommend this read, but the romance of it would be my first recommendation. The second is the humor; the third, pace; and last but not least are the three-dimensional characters, even the secondary ones.” – Melanie

THE REBEL PRINCESS by Judith Koll Healy

Paris, October 1207. There is nothing that Princess AlaÏs of France wants more than to settle down with her lover, William of Caen, and to reveal to his ward, Francis, that she is his mother. but intrigue is afoot in the palace, and tensions are pushed to the brink when a much prized relic is stolen and young Francis goes missing. frantic for his safety, AlaÏs will risk life and limb to find the boy—donning a disguise to outwit cunning enemies as she makes her way into unfamiliar territory to save her son, and perhaps prevent a bloody holy war that threatens her beloved France.

From the opulent halls of Paris to austere monasteries in the south of France, The Rebel Princess combines history and suspense in an unforgettable tale involving one of the most enigmatic and intriguing female figures in medieval history.

“Where to start? This was a very, very, very long read for me. I would start reading it and stop, then repeat the exercise for the next month and a half.” – Melanie

TO PLEASURE A DUKE by Sara Bennett

It has taken Eugenie Belmont but a moment to decide whom to marry . . .

Unfortunately the gentleman in question, the Duke of Somerton, hasn’t yet offered—a mere formality for a confirmed member of the Husband Hunters Club of Miss Debenham’s Finishing School. Like her friends, Eugenie is unwilling to wait demurely until the perfect mate happens by. And, despite the handsome duke’s imposing reputation, she can feel his heated glances in her direction are charged with desire . . . and possibilities.

Saddled with a dukedom, a haughty dowager, and an irresponsible younger sister, Sinclair St. John is far too occupied with important matters to indulge in romantic whims. But for the first time in his life, a brazen temptress has him utterly distracted. He could—and he should—dismiss her and court someone more befitting his station. But he is irresistibly drawn to this bewitching woman . . . and must match her game of seduction, move for passionate move.

“This is my first ever book by this author, and my last, sad to say.” – Melanie

And there you have it, my bookworms. Now, remember! It’s always possible that what I liked you may not, and vice-versa. These are only my opinions based on what I like, and what I preffer. If you’d like to purchase any of these books, click on the cover and it’ll take you to Amazon.

Now off I go to see what’s left on my Kindle…

‘Lord Midnight’ by Donna Cummings

GABRIEL DeVAULT, a dashing highwayman, lives to avenge himself against the uncle who stole his title and tried to kill him as a child. One night’s robbery yields unexpected riches when his uncle’s spirited bride-to-be falls into Gabriel’s arms. Now his plans for vengeance include seduction of the innocent miss, in the home that once was his own.

MARISA DUNSMORE is blackmailed into wedding the cold and calculating Edmund DeVault, Lord Westbrook, to protect her beloved aunt. When her attempts to escape the upcoming marriage fail, she turns to the man she knows as Lord Midnight, entrusting him with her love, and her future.

Soon Gabriel must choose: saving the woman who stole his heart, or destroying the man who stole his life.

MINI REVIEW: I’ve never read anything from Donna Cummings before ‘Lord Midnight’, but that will change after this book.

I reviewed this book for Romance Reader At Heart last month (here) and thought to let you all know that I really enjoyed it. I have no doubt that you’ll all fall in love with Gabriel. As for Marisa, she will take your breath away with her wit and charm.

I loved everything about this story, from the pace of the story to the plot of it. It will have you tied in knots and make you anxious for the HEA. I highly recommend it, so make sure you find the time for it.

Mother’s Day….

I woke up this morning a bit sad. It’s mother’s day and there are no little pitter-patter of feet running around the kitchen, trying so hard to be quiet preparing me a ‘surprise’ breakfast. Those feet have now ‘pitter-pattered’ in my son’s case, out-of-state in search of his own life’s  happiness and in case of my daughter, her search of  life’s path. Oh, I’m sure they’ll call me today and we’ll talk and reminisce about my ‘smothering’ as they call it, and we’ll touch on how much we miss each other, but then we all will get back to living our lives apart.

And that is as it should be.  Most of us try to bring our children in a way that we can proudly say that they’re all independent and can choose their own path. That’s how it was with me and my parents, [what was I thinking when at twenty years of age, half way around the world, on a vacation, I called my mother to tell her that after only ONE WEEK I've decided to marry and never return to the States?!] and it was with my parents [what were they thinking to leave their parents behind in a third-world country, old and alone and head out with no money and two kids for the country which language they didn't speak?!], too.

I understand the concept; I embrace it even, but that doesn’t mean that I like it or that it makes me happy. It only means that I’ve come to accept it as years go by. That’s life, I guess, and we should be grateful that we’re all healthy and still around and able to talk, argue and kiss and make up. But what about those mothers that aren’t able to do so? That are all alone today, and I mean truly alone, whose children are lost to them? To wars, crime and illness?

And that brings me to those of us that have lost their own mothers in the past and this year. I know that my mother past away sixteen years ago, and while the pain has subsided, the ‘missing’ has not. At fifty-seven, she died way too young. If she were with me today, I think that, for the lack of a better word, the ‘abandonment’  would not hurt as much.

When I stop and think about all this, I feel ashamed at being sad for mere ‘physical distance’ that’s separating me from my own kids….

To all of you mothers, especially the military ones out there, I send my huge Serbian hug. We should grab what we can, hold it tight and let it go when the time comes. It’s all we can do. We’ve done our part. Now, they can fly and soar to the heights that we didn’t, couldn’t…wouldn’t even dream of.

‘If I Fall’ by Kate Noble

Every great romance comes with a risk…
After a duke’s betrayal, the resilient Sarah Forrester reinvents herself as the Golden Lady: society’s leading light, the beautiful and witty life of the party. It’s all a façade of course-one that protects her from another intimate disloyalty. When her old friend, Lieutenant Jackson Fletcher, returns to London, he is determined to rediscover the true and trusting Sarah he once knew. It’ll take more than a kiss and a promise. It might even call for an innocent and necessary deception.

Then Jackson is enlisted to help capture the lead suspect in a murder– a man who happens to be Sarah’s most ardent suitor. Jack must continue the deception, and weathering this newest and gravest betrayal will be Sarah’s ultimate test. But as Jack’s passion for her grows, he must also reveal his own secrets. And as the killer turns his attention to his pursuers, more than love and trust is put at risk.

I truly love Kate Nobles style of writing.  Her characters have flaws, depth, feeling, emotions, REALNESS.  And I love that!  When I say they have realness, I mean they have realness.  They can be downright annoying at times- not in a bad way but in a “I love you but I don’t like you right now” kinda way!

I loved everything about the characters.  Sarah is beautiful, angry and protecting herself behind a big fat façade.  Jackson is a loyal, wonderful hero for Sarah and I was so intrigued by him. I could have read their story for EVER.  I didn’t want it to end.  The drama, the angst, the suspense, the romance- It all blended together beautifully to make me one happy, happy reader!

I like the development and growth that was visible on every page.  I like my characters to grow together and be better people when they are together and that is absolutely the case with Sarah and Jackson.  They compliment one another, they make each other better people.  They are simply better together- and Jackson fights for her emotions and her love and that made me just LOVE him so much!

And on a side note the cover to this book is just GORGEOUS!

This is my first book by Kate Noble but it certainly will not be my last!  I look forward to searching out more of Kate Nobles books and seeing where she takes me in each of them!

 

‘Comeback Love’ by Peter Golden

To say I liked this story is an understatement. This novel is for all of us that at one time or another questioned ourselves about our first love, and how come we let it slip through our fingers.

There’s so much to recommend this story that I honestly don’t know where to begin!

This is well written, character driven and very moving story that will grab you from the first page. It will then take you on a journey of love lost and love found, while in the background past and current events will eerily remind you of what our country went through in the 60’s and what it is still going through today.

The hero of this tale is Gordon Meyers; a man who at present needs to connect with the past in order to sort out his deep feelings for a woman that he could never forget, even through all the years of his marriage, consequent divorce and many years of loneliness.

The novel opens a few days after Christmas and Gordon is on his way to see his sister, stopping by his hometown cemetery. As tears are freezing in his eyes while talking to the gravestones, he decides to drive to Manhattan,and soon after he’s checked into Grand Hyatt.

As he sits in his hotel room and ponders his lonely existence, he’s looking over a piece of paper with Glenna Rising’s information on it and wonders if he should call or just surprise her at her office, after all, it has been over thirty years since they’ve seen each other. The first time they see each other, after so many years and life lived apart, that scene was so tender and real, it brought tears to my eyes…

*EXCERPT: “Having imagined seeing Glenna again for so long, I viewed myself as ready for anything-anything, that is, except entering the waiting room and actually seeing her with UPS box in her hands, standing amid the tube-framed chairs and low, laminate-topped tables that made me think that all doctors shopped at the same discount-furniture outlet.

            ‘Can I help-‘ Glenna said, and then she went silent, gazing at me. I was stunned, not quite believing it was her. From the looks of it, she had been getting ready to leave. She was wearing a wraparound, camel-hair coat and sheepskin boots. Her hair was shorter then I recalled, cut even along her shoulders, the soft luminous brown highlighted by strands of silver. The age lines in her face were visible under the harsh gleam of the fluorescent ceiling panels, but she was still beautiful, the features softer now and just as lovely.

            Although I have rehearsed several clever remarks, the best I could do to break the ice was ‘We’ve got the same boots.’

            Glenna didn’t reply. I had expected a melancholy rush of nostalgia. Instead, I felt the torment of unfinished business, regret without end.

But then, thankfully, Glena laughed, her own special music, irony always playing around edges of joy.

            She put the box on the receptionist’s desk, then came over and lifted up my Irish-tweed cap. I didn’t spot a wedding ring on her finger, and while I was processing that information, Glenna touched my short gray hair.

            ‘We’re old, Gordon.’

            ‘We’re getting there.’

I can’t say who made the first move, but hugging her was perfectly natural, as if we had seen each other that morning, before Glenna left for the hospital and I returned to my writing, as though over thirty years hadn’t vanished. When her arms came up around me and the side of my face touched hers, memories flashed through my head like a movie being rewound so fast the scenes are reduced to a blur of colors. The smell of her hair, though, that was real, like crisp apples in the fall. My throat constricted; I almost started to cry; and yet, I also had the comforting illusion that my whole adult life was starting again, and everything that had happened had not happened at all. The disturbing sense that I had taken the wrong turn and lived the wrong life was gone.”

My first impression of this novel was that this is a ‘grown-up’ read, but on the second thought, I am recommending it to young and old alike, as it teaches us that “True love stories never have endings” and that’s a quote by Richard Bach, that I just happen to catch on Facebook minutes ago posted by Evelyn Archer, romance author and my b2b co-blogger.

As the author Peter Golden takes us on a journey between the past and present, we are immersed through his wonderful story-telling, and vested into the life so rarely portrayed with such real-life detail that will give you goose bumps. You’ll not only be revisiting, but you’ll be reliving Woodstock and the Vietnam War era as well as the political turmoil of the 60’s. You’ll also find the remarkable similarities to today’s US politics. Talk about dejavú!

Comeback Love by Peter Golden is one of those novels that might leave you emotionally drained, yet in the end you’ll be satisfied and uplifted and happy to have taken this journey with our hero and heroine.

Without a doubt this is a five quills read and I highly recommend you read it.

*This review posted on Romantic Crush Junkies Reviews eZine*

‘Forever and a Day’ by Delilah Marvelle

Georgia Emily Milton is one awesome heroine! I just loved her enthusiasm and straight forward manner. She was one strong and formidable female.

The life she led in Five Points, one of the slums of New York in 1830 America, was not easy for our heroine. But then, nothing ever came easy for this young and beautiful, but poor widow.
She was picked out of a coal bin as a teenager by her beloved Raymond who already was a father of two boys. After his death, she gets a hold of a dream of owning her own property out west, in Ohio and she’s determined to save every penny, nickel and dime to do what her Raymond taught her she had a right to want: the universe.
A dream she never dreamt, and is no dream at all but a reality was the one in which she meets an attractive and wealthy man who she thinks can only see her as a “one night commodity”.
This man approaches her and she finds him attractive, but the voice inside is telling her, he’s not for her and he never could or would be. However, our hero would not be deterred, and slowly he gets her to smile and they both start flirting with each other and out of the blue a kid steps in and nabs Georgia’s reticule. As both give chaise after the thief, our hero is waylaid and knocked unconscious by an omnibus.
Georgia is filled with guilt as she later finds out that the man is now suffering from memory loss and the only name he remembers and wants to be called is-Robinson Crusoe.
As she and the doctor that’s treating him are trying to find who he is, she has no choice but to take him home to her tenement apartment.
She’s aware that even with his memory loss, this man will be like a fish out of water in her world at Five Points,
I loved the scene in the hospital, in which she ‘prepares’ his clothes and ‘repairs’ his appearance for ‘her neighborhood’.
‘Robinson’ felt very protective of this young woman who selflessly gave him protection and security, when he felt most vulnerable and lost. His attraction to her was instantaneous, but he tried very hard to act a gentleman and he might have made it, if our heroine hadn’t been one force of nature! One more thing I loved from the first scene to the last was the dialogue between the two! It made me laugh out loud and cry!
Ms. Marvelle gave me a romance that was scorching hot, yet tender. The attraction and the chemistry between the two sizzled and the love scenes were very sensual and steamy.  She also took me on a journey from the slums of America to the high society of London and I enjoyed every minute of it!
I am thrilled to give this book my five quills and I’ll never forget this story that takes two people who can’t be more different in every way, yet their love and passion for each other was limitless and able to bridge every obstacle thrown their way.
Are you ready for a heart wrenching, nail-biting, funny and unbelievably passionate love story? If you are, grab yourself a copy and enjoy ‘Forever and a Day’.
*This review posted on Romantic Crush Junkies Reviews eZine*