Review: Last Stop Wylder

LAST STOP WYLDER by Barbara Bettis

Fiction, Historical, Romance

5*****

Blurb: Gunman Morgan Dodd is headed to a new life in California, where no one knows his name. Or his reputation. Just one last job to raise money for his fresh start-gunhand for a railroad agent in Wyoming. Easy enough. Until he meets the woman who could change everything. After ending her engagement, Emily Martin longs for independence. She sets out for Wylder, Wyoming, to help her brother with his newspaper. But when she arrives, she finds he’s off investigating a story. Well, then. She’ll simply publish the paper herself until he returns. Emily’s prepared to face challenges, but not the dangerous stranger who ambushes her heart. The same man hired to destroy her livelihood. When a common enemy threatens, Morgan and Emily must find a way to defeat danger and save their budding love. But a gunman’s word is his bond, and a lady’s trust can shatter.

Thoughts: After breaking her engagement, Emily Martin heads to Wylder, Wyoming to visit her brother David, who owns the local newspaper. But David isn’t there when she arrives and the business is in shambles. Emily refuses to back down and is determined to get the paper back up and running for her brother until he returns. But she is a city girl and not used to the rough way of life in Wylder. She can’t even make her own tea! 

Morgan Dodd’s new job and his new boss make him uneasy, but he is honor bound to do what he was hired to do. But he’ll do it his way. Especially when he meets the pretty newspaper woman, Emily. He and Emily end up ensnared in a nasty cattle rustling/land grabbing conflict that puts them both in danger.

 This is a great addition to the Wylder series of stories. The secondary characters are almost as good as the main ones and the story reads well. This is a great historical with lots of interesting notes about frontier towns, voting rights, newspapers, and more and told in such as way as to not be boring. A really good Western romance.

Recommended.

Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in
Advertising”

11/10/22

Review: Love at First

LOVE AT FIRST by Kate Clayborn

Fiction, Contemporary Romance

5*****

Nora and Will are perfectly messed up people who find their way past their pasts to a hopeful future. Nora lives in a small condo building, having taken over her grandmother’s apartment when she died. Nora spent all her summers there while growing up so knows everyone in the building. They are family. When Will inherits one of the apartments from his deceased uncle, everything starts changing. And change is something Nora doesn’t deal with well. 

Will doesn’t want anything to do with his uncle’s unit. His uncle had turned him away when he was a young teen and the resentment is still there. Nor does he have any feelings for the people who do live there.

At least, not at first. But as Nora and Will both discover, change does happen—and sometimes that can be a good thing.

Definitely recommended.

Review: A Mystery Before Christmas

This is not your typical cozy mystery. First of all, it’s set in Italy with locals, not Americans visiting or living there. So you get all the fun that goes with sometimes stereotypical Italian families. And it is fun – the family arguments along with the closeness, especially at Christmas.

There are two mysteries here – but no dead bodies. The one has a satisfying and happy conclusion, the other…not so much. I can only assume that it will be solved in a later book, but it left me slightly unhappy that it was not settled.

Still, there are great characters and interesting settings. I will note that I had a little trouble getting into the story at first, but my attention was quickly caught up and I finished it in a single day.

Recommended for those looking for something different in their cozy mysteries.

Spotlight: Andrew Grey


Title: Fire and Glass
Author: Andrew Grey
Series: Carlisle Troopers (Book 2)
Genre: Gay Romance, LGBTQ, MM, Law Enforcement
Publisher: DreamSpinner Press
Release Date: Nov 1
Blurb/Synopsis
A Carlisle Troopers Novel

State Trooper Casey Bombaro works too hard to have time for a love life, never mind a family. But when a missing persons case leads him to three scared kids and eventually their uncle—an old friend from Casey’s college days—all that changes.

Bertie Riley hasn’t seen his troubled sister, Jen, or his niece and nephews in years. Now suddenly Jen is gone and Bertie is all the kids have. Worried sick about Jen and overwhelmed by his new responsibilities, Bertie doesn’t know how he’s going to cope. He doesn’t expect Casey to step in and lend a hand, but his attraction to his old friend doesn’t surprise him. Years may have passed, but those feelings have never gone away.

For the first time in his life, Casey wants something to come home to. Bertie and the kids fit into his life like they are meant to be there. He struggles to balance a budding romance and reassuring the kids with investigating a rash of robberies and tracking down Jen. But when evidence suggests Jen might not only be missing but complicit in a number of crimes, will Bertie and the kids forgive Casey for doing his job?
Continue reading “Spotlight: Andrew Grey”

Review: Christmas at Tall Pines

CHRISTMAS AT TALL PINES by DeLuca

Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Holiday

4****

Blurb: Melanie Beck is searching for an idyllic Christmas like the ones her
small family used to have. Traveling solo and still grieving the loss of her
parents, she’s counting on cozy Tall Pines Lodge tucked into the mountains of
Utah to provide the elusive holiday feels with merry music, stunning
decorations and traditional Christmas feast in a beautiful frosty setting. But
a blizzard turns the winter wonderland into a hazard, and a chance encounter
with a now-famous high school crush has her reeling with emotions she’s never
quite gotten over. Tyler Shaw, a Hollywood heartthrob and silver screen
star, is so over a grueling film schedule and persistent paparazzi. In disguise
and using a fake name, he comes to Tall Pines to escape the spotlight and get
some much-needed rest. He’s hoping the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing at
the nearby slopes will give him the reboot he’s looking for. Instead, he’s
stuck at the lodge and is shocked to run into an old high school friend that he
left behind more than a decade ago. He’s even more surprised to discover how
much he’s missed her. As their past and present collide, can an old flame
ignite some Christmas magic?

Thoughts: Settle in with a cup of hot cider and get ready to enjoy this
lovely Hallmark-type romance story. There’s all kinds of tropes here – old
friends reunited, friendship to love, Christmas, and more. And it all works.

What I liked: The interaction between Melanie and Tyler. They’re old friends
reunited, but he’d left a hole in her life when he ghosted her (not his fault,
but still…). Now, she doesn’t know whether to trust him again or not. Plus,
he’s a big-time movie star with fans and paparazzi after him all the time. How
can she compete with that? Their conflict is real. And their attraction is real.
Plus I loved that they’re going to try to provide some Christmas for kids at
the snowed in resort.

What I didn’t like: The ending was just a tad too rushed for me. I’d liked
to have seen some of the threads tied up, maybe in a short epilogue to show
that Melanie’s book did become a series, that she got to meet Tyler’s family
(and his father wasn’t a complete meanie), that her doubts are put to rest and
they become an actual couple. The story has a “happy-for-now” ending that hints
at a “happily-ever-after” theme, but it’s not quite there yet.

Recommendation: Even with those few nits, I definitely recommend this as a
feel-good Christmas romance. Plus, it’s a novella, so quick and easy to read.
Pick this one up.

Disclaimer: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with
the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a
review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am
posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part
255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in
Advertising”

November 6 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: James Jones (1921), Zig Ziglar (1926), Berlie Doherty (1943), Michael Cunningham (1952), Karin Fossum (1954), Stephen Watson (1954), Catherine Asaro (1955), Maria Shriver (1955), Clare Vanderpool (1965), Colson Whitehead (1969)

James Jones is best known for his first novel, “From Here to Eternity”

Michael Cunningham won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “The Hours”

Clare Vanderpool on the 2011 Newbery Medal for her book “Moon Over Manifest”

Colson Whitehead won the 2016 National Book Award for “The Underground Railroad”

Quote: “You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending.” ― James R. Sherman, Rejection

“I revise constantly, as I go along and then again after I’ve finished a first draft. Few of my novels contain a single sentence that closely resembles the sentence I first set down. I just find that I have to keep zapping and zapping the English language until it starts to behave in some way that vaguely matches my intentions.” – Michael Cunningham

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. It’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” – Mark Twain

Tip: Check out places like “Grammarly” (www.grammarly.com) if you’re not sure about your grammar. Or ProWriter. Or any other grammar program.

Jumpstart: I could hear my heartbeat thundering. I was sure he could hear it too. Unfortunately…

Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Today is Saturday, November 5.

Birthdays: Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850), Eugene Debs (1855), Will Durant (1885), John Berger (1926), Christopher Wood (1935), Sam Shepard (1943), Carole Nelson Douglas (1944), Richard Holmes (1945), Joyce Maynard (1953), Andrew Sean Greer (1970), Uzodinma Iweala (1982)

Andrew Greer won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for “Less”

Sam Shepard won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “Buried Child”

Quote: “When you hit a wall – of your own imagined limitations – just kick it in.” – Sam Shepard

Tip: Not everything you create will sell. Every author has those manuscripts they thought were amazing but are gathering dust in a drawer. And that’s okay. Move on and write the next one!

Jumpstart: I got lost. I had my phone, the GPS, and even a paper map. And I got lost. What would I do? What could I do? Not matter what I did, I ended up wrong…

Review: Sugar Cookie Angels

SUGAR COOKIE ANGELS by D.M. Grant

Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Novella (80 pages), Sweet

4****

Blurb: Jesse Coleson had one goal…acquire the old inn and keep her real estate firm afloat with the commission. What she wasn’t expecting was a car accident, an attractive single father, an interfering guardian angel, and a sudden limit to her time on earth. Luke Benson shut his inn down a year ago with no intention of opening its doors to the public. But when he pulls a mysterious woman from her sunken car, and an old foe reappears, he’s forced to question what life and loss really mean. Can they learn the true meaning of life together, or will the past and heavenly forces pull them under?

Thoughts: This was a sweet, quick read – only 80 pages. Jesse is on her way back to the small town where her grandmother lived. She owns a real estate agency and has plans to buy the inn that’s there. Things go awry when she is run off the road and ends up upside down in a freezing creek (it’s winter!). She’s pulled out of the water by Luke Benson, the owner of the inn. 

And then things get really interesting. 

The characters are fun—especially Liza the ghost. I loved Liza’s pranks on Jesse. This is a sweet, fun romance that hits all the “Hallmark-type” spots. The only thing that didn’t work for me, and it’s minor, was the short timeline for their romance. But the rest… the reason Luke closed the inn down, his daughter, the cook, Jesse’s rival, and more… it all works well. There is a lot going on for such a short read.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a sweet, quick, holiday read, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

Disclaimer: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Spotlight: Darlene DeLuca

A blizzard at Tall Pines mountain lodge puts Melanie Beck within arm’s reach of an old high school crush and in danger of losing both her idyllic Christmas and her heart. Melanie Beck is searching for an idyllic Christmas like the ones her small family used to have. Traveling solo and still grieving the loss of her parents, she’s counting on cozy Tall Pines Lodge tucked into the mountains of Utah to provide the elusive holiday feels with merry music, stunning decorations and traditional Christmas feast in a beautiful frosty setting. But a blizzard turns the winter wonderland into a hazard, and a chance encounter with a now-famous high school crush has her reeling with emotions she’s never quite gotten over. Tyler Shaw, a Hollywood heartthrob and silver screen star, is so over a grueling film schedule and persistent paparazzi. In disguise and using a fake name, he comes to Tall Pines to escape the spotlight and get some much-needed rest. He’s hoping the adrenaline rush of downhill skiing at the nearby slopes will give him the reboot he’s looking for. Instead, he’s stuck at the lodge and is shocked to run into an old high school friend that he left behind more than a decade ago. He’s even more surprised to discover how much he’s missed her. As their past and present collide, can an old flame ignite some Christmas magic?

About the author:

Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction that explores relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart. Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave readers either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as they turn the final page. The Kansas City author enjoys getting lost in a good story with a glass of tea, a bit of dark chocolate and a warm, sunny beach.

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