~☆Forever Summer Reading☆~ Christie Craig’s Favorite Summer Memory

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My Poolside Summers

When I was teenager my dad built a swimming pool in our backyard.  I remember when he first told me of his plan, I was in teenage euphoria. I mean, all I could think about was the wild and crazy pool parties I’d have.  All the hot Bama boys that would flock to my house to keep cool during those steamy summer days. Or even better, those sweltering nights. Oh, yeah. But, like most things in teenage life, it didn’t turn out quite like I thought it would.  There were no cute boys lining up to swim at my house day or night. Honestly, as an awkward-feeling, extremely-quiet teenager, I’d have probably died before I would’ve let a boy see me in my bikini. Yeah, I was that girl.

Not that it stopped me from enjoying the pool. I would put on a swim suit, put lemon juice in my hair to give me summer highlights, Coppertone on my skin to help me get my summer glow, and I’d lie out there on a beach towel soaking up the sun.

Had I not been dyslexic, I’d have carried a bag of books with me to read about hot boys and crazy adventures. Yet because reading was so difficult, and the idea of being a writer was years off, I didn’t live vicariously through books. I didn’t start reading for pleasure until I was in my early twenties.

Not that my teen poolside time was wasted. In fact, quite the opposite. You see, while I acquired my summer tan and highlights, I daydreamed. Actually, they were more than daydreams. I wrote my own adventures in my head. I couldn’t wait to get poolside where I’d escape my humdrum existence and fantasize about those hot boys.  I’d let my mind take me somewhere that was much more exciting than my own life.

And by exciting, I don’t mean just the romance.  My tales always involved some mystery to solve or danger to avoid.  Yup, it was on those hot summer days when I dipped my toe into weaving romantic suspense stories. It was there while I got bikini lines that I created some of my first heroes to love, plots with problems, and heroines with more gumption than I had as a teen. It is any wonder that even today, the clean, crisp smell of Coppertone—that is now hard to find—mingled with hints of lemon puts me in a creative mood.

I can only hope that Don’t Close Your Eyes offers some summertime entertainment for readers!

Happy Summer!

CraigDONTMESSWITHTEXASChristy

About Christie Craig: Christie Craig is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-nine books. She is an Alabama native, a motivational speaker, and a writing teacher, who currently hangs her hat in Texas. When she’s not writing romance, she’s traveling, sipping wine, or penning bestselling young adult novels as C.C. Hunter. For more info on Christie and her books, please visit ChristieCraig.com.

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Don’t Close Your Eyes by Christie Craig will hit shelves on August 28, 2018.

Book link: https://www.forever-romance.com/titles/christie-craig/dont-close-your-eyes/9781538711606/

 

 

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~☆Excerpt☆~To Have and To Harley by Regina Cole

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You may now kiss the biker

Bethany Jernigan owes her bestie. Big time. So when wedding planning overburdens the bride-to-be, Bethany steps in to handle the nitty-gritty. But the guy in charge isn’t anything like she imagined. He’s gruff, tattooed, and 100% male. His staff is even rougher around the edges, and it’s not long before she feels as if she’s stepped into some kind of crazy alternate reality.

Are those…bikers? Arguing about wedding favors?

Trey Harding never wanted this to get so out of hand. One little lie somehow snowballed into a world of dresses and flowers and food and holy-hell-he’s-in-over-his-head. But it’s not like he can confess he’s not the wedding planner he’s pretending to be—especially now that he’s falling for the maid of honor! His charade is becoming a farce, and as engines rev and ribbons fly, Trey’s running out of time to figure out how to tell the truth without losing his new family, his crew…or the woman of his dreams.

Amazon:      https://amzn.to/2MS0d5m

B&N:             http://bit.ly/2MXws38

iBooks:         https://apple.co/2JzjH0F

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Regina Cole, lover of manly muscled arms, chest hair, and mini-marshmallows, has been reading romance since her early teens. When she’s not frantically pounding away at the keyboard, she can be found fishing with her family, snuggling with her hubby and tiny twin boys, or slinging mud in her magical home pottery studio. She lives outside Raleigh, North Carolina.

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✫★REVIEW★✫

I took a chance on Regina Cole’s To Have and to Harley because it intrigued me; bikers turned wedding planners, I had to see where it went. I am SO, SO, glad I did. I loved the interaction and the odd match-up. Things turn a little dark in the middle and there were times that I wanted to slap both the hero and heroine. However, things came around to where I wanted them to by the end, so much so that I hope all 12 of the Shadows get their own book. Bikers turned wedding planners is fabulous and creative and wonderful.

 

✫★EXCERPT★✫

He was in way over his head.

Mrs. Yelverton was a freaking saint. All his life he’d been imagining her as an evil, heartless, empty stranger who had abandoned him, and now? Now?

How could he tell her what he’d turned into?

“I, well, I’m in charge of a kind of group.” He paused to clear his throat, his hand rubbing the back of his neck to clear the tensing of the muscles there. “Yeah.”

“A group? Like a business group?”

He coughed, then took a sip of coffee. “Yeah, you could call it that.”

“What kind of business are you in?”

Damn it.

Her stare was too clear, too honest, much too direct. He was struck by a feeling he hadn’t been expecting. Somehow, someway, he was afraid of disappointing her.

Well, if that wasn’t a kick in the teeth.

There wasn’t a way around it. Was there?

Desperate, he looked around the kitchen while he took another long sip of coffee.

What to say? Because the truth—the shakedowns, the Robin Hood–style robberies, the bodyguarding—none of it was exactly on the up and up. There were definite legal and moral gray areas to what he did. And while he had no problem with it personally, he didn’t want to run the risk of disappointing her.

Who was he turning into?

Desperate, his gaze flew about the kitchen.

“Well, we do a little…” Hell, she’d never believe he cooked. Something else. Quick, you dumbass. Keep it vague. Stall. “A little organizing, you might say.”

She nodded, an interested look on her face inviting him to continue. Ah, dammit.

Keep looking. A container of herbs sat on the windowsill above the sink. Gardening? Screw that. He scanned the rest of the kitchen. Nothing. No ideas whatsoever.

“What kind of events do you organize?”

Dammit. Dammit, dammit, dammit.

He rested his elbow on the tabletop, knocking a magazine to the floor.

“Whoops. Sorry.” He bent down to get it.

A woman in a beautiful white gown was spread across the back of the magazine. The tagline for a bridal boutique advertisement read We help you tie the knot in style.

“Not a problem. So, you were saying?”

His mind was blank. Totally, completely blank. His mouth opened, but nothing came out.

Mrs. Yelverton furrowed her brow in obvious concern. “Are you okay?”

He had to say something. He looked down in desperation. The magazine was still there, facedown beside him, the laughing woman in the white gown like an angel of salvation.

“Weddings,” he blurted out as he straightened in his seat. “We organize weddings.”

What. The. Actual. Fuck. Had. Just. Come. Out. Of. His. Mouth.

“Weddings. Wow, I hadn’t expected that.”

He coughed. “Yeah, me either.”

Mrs. Yelverton laughed. “I can imagine. How did you get into it?”

Wanting nothing more than to jump up and leave the county at a dead run, Trey shrugged, trying to play it off. “I got a chance to do some, enjoyed it, made my own business.”

“That’s really impressive! What’s the business called?”

His hand was lying atop the magazine beside him, his knuckles lining up with the ad copy perfectly. He read the words out together.

“The Iron Knot.”

Mrs. Yelverton laughed, clapping her hands delightedly. “That’s absolutely perfect. Trey, I’m so proud of you.”

Those words should have made him feel amazing. Instead, he felt like a scum-sucking bastard for lying to her.

Just then, the door behind her opened, and Trey’s chest went vise-tight, his heart clambering against his ribs in triple time.

She was long, lean, with bone-straight blond hair and elfin features complementing porcelain skin. Her blue eyes were a bit red, as if she’d been crying recently. But despite the obviously brimming emotion beneath the surface, she wore a bright smile. It was the kind of expression he’d adopted many times over the years. Pretending things were all right when everything had turned to ashes around him was the only option he’d had at times, and seeing the same kind of defense mechanism in her touched him in a way he wasn’t expecting. Physically, she was just his type, and the way she moved into the room, both cautious and confident—strong as hell despite whatever was trying to bring her down—sparked immediate interest and admiration in his gut.

This was…unexpected.

“Oh, Bethy, I didn’t expect you until late this afternoon.” Mrs. Yelverton rose and pulled the girl into her arms.

A wave of nausea overtook Trey. Was this girl…Was she…

Well, so much for that short-lived spark of attraction.

“Trey, I’d like you to meet Bethany.”

“Hi,” the blond said, and Trey stood. She looked a little intimidated as he stood to his full height.

He’d been about to step toward her for the introduction, but he stopped. No need to make her more uncomfortable. But the idea that she found him scary was oddly disappointing.

“I’m Bethany Jernigan,” she said, sticking her hand out for him to shake.

“Trey Harding,” he said, gripping her much smaller hand in his, trying to ignore the softness of her skin, the faint tremble of her touch.

“Bethany, I hope you won’t mind keeping this quiet from Sarah for now. I haven’t had a chance to tell her about it. But this…” Mrs. Yelverton drew Trey’s arm through hers. “This is Samuel.”

Bethany gasped, her hand over her mouth, and Trey looked away. “Samuel? That Samuel?”

Mrs. Yelverton nodded delightedly. “My son. He’s finally home.”

“Oh…oh my God.”

Trey hated this. He felt awkward, like a sideshow freak. His spine prickled, his feet nearly bouncing with the urge to get the hell out of there.

“Trey, Bethany has been part of our family for years now. She’s your sister Sarah’s best friend and lived with us until she went to college. Of course, she’s still got a room here. She’ll always be welcome to come back home.” Mrs. Yelverton’s smile was gentle as she looked at Bethany.

“Wait. So we’re not related?” Trey gestured between himself and Bethany.

Mrs. Yelverton laughed. “No, not by blood. But I hope you’ll be close.”

Something uncurled in his belly then, a knot of anxiety releasing as he looked at Bethany Jernigan—no relation—with new eyes.

“I hope so too,” he said. She blushed a little and glanced away.

~☆Summer Reading Event☆~ Sara Richardson

 

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Sara Richardson’s Summer Reading List

During the summer, I spend a lot of time with my kids at the pool. It’s always a great way to wear out two active boys! J While they burn all of their energy I love to set myself up in the shade and read. Here are a few of the books I’m most looking forward to this summer:

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson – I love matchmaking stories! Throw in the twist of the main character receiving an inheritance from her ex-husband’s great aunt, and I’m hooked. Maddie is a new-to-me author and I can’t wait to dive in!

The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne RaeAnne’s books are always a one-click buy for me. Every story promises emotional depth, engaging characters, and that heartwarming charm she’s known for.

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins – Kristan is my go-to author for all the feels wrapped up in one fabulous story. When I have one of her books in my hands, I never fail to laugh and cry and feel everything right along with the characters.

Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis  – Jill Shalvis is a master at developing relatable, three-dimensional characters. No matter what the story is about, the characters always pull me into their world and keep me engaged until the last page.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – Everyone seems to be talking about this book! I always love a heroine who is determined to overcome challenges, and I’m fascinated with the issues this book explores. Besides that, I’m always a sucker for a good love story.

 

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True-Blue Cowboy, part of Sara Richardson’s Rocky Mountain Rider series, is available on July 31, 2018.

Book link: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/sara-richardson/true-blue-cowboy/9781538712245/

About Sara Richardson: Sara Richardson grew up chasing adventure in Colorado’s rugged mountains. After a brief stint in the corporate writing world, she stopped ignoring the voices in her head and started writing fiction. Now she uses her experience as a mountain adventure guide to write stories that incorporate adventure with romance. Sara lives and plays in Colorado with her saint of a husband and two young sons. For more on Sara and her books, please visit sararichardson.com.

 

#ForeverSummerReading giveaway

 

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~☆Summer Reading with RC Ryan☆~

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Favorite book set at the beach?

R.C: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

 

Is there a subgenre or trope that you have never written but would like to?

R.C.: Shape-shifters. I have an amazing character in mind who would make a fabulous thriller.

 

What is your all-time favorite summer tune?

R.C.: She wore an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny, yellow polka dot bikini… Oh no. Now it’s going to play through my mind all day.

 

What is your best summer memory?

R.C.: Long car trips to see my relatives in Canada. There was a log cottage on a lake with a big dormitory room for the kids. We swam in a frigid lake, climbed trees, chased chipmunks. Pure kid heaven.

 

If you could choose a vacation destination for the couple in your new book, where would it be and why?

R.C.: I’d choose their honeymoon destination – all alone on Ben’s piece of land in the hills, with just mustangs and all manner of wild animals for their nearest neighbors. Heavenly.

 

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Cowboy on My Mind by R.C. Ryan will be available on June 26, 2018.

 

Buy link:

 

https://www.forever-romance.com/titles/r-c-ryan/cowboy-on-my-mind/9781538711149/

 

About R.C. Ryan: New York Times bestselling author R.C. Ryan has written more than ninety novels, both contemporary and historical. R.C. Ryan is a pseudonym of New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ryan Langan. For more information on R.C. and her books, please visit RuthLangan.com.

 

 

#ForeverSummerReading Sweepstakes

 

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~☆Review & Excerpt☆~ Hooked on You by Kate Meader

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Book details

The Chicago Rebels series, Book 4

The eBook is on sale May 7, 2018!

The mass market is on sale May 29, 2018!

Mass Market Paperback • Price: $9.99 • ISBN: 9781501168574

eBook • Price: $5.99 • ISBN: 9781501180903

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Book description

Violet Vasquez never met her biological father, so learning he left his beloved hockey franchise—the Chicago Rebels—to her is, well, unexpected. Flat broke and close to homeless, Violet is determined to make the most of this sudden opportunity. Except dear old dad set conditions that require she takes part in actually running the team with the half-sisters she barely knows. Working with these two strangers and overseeing a band of hockey-playing lugs is not on her agenda…until she lays eyes on the Rebels captain and knows she has to have him.

Bren St. James has been labeled a lot of things: the Puck Prince, Lord of the Ice, Hell’s Highlander…but it’s the latest tag that’s making headlines: washed-up alcoholic has-been. This season, getting his life back on track and winning the Cup are his only goals. With no time for relationships—except the fractured ones he needs to rebuild with his beautiful daughters—he’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore sexy, all-up-in-his-beard Violet Vasquez. And when he finds himself in need of a nanny just as the playoffs are starting, he’s faced with a temptation he could so easily get hooked on.

For two lost souls, there’s more on the line than just making the best of a bad situation… there might also be a shot at the biggest prize of all: love.

✫★REVIEW★✫

Calling all fans of the Las Vegas Golden Knights and their Cinderella journey to the Stanley Cup Finals…  Kate Meader’s last installment in the Chicago Rebels series, Hooked on You should be your next read.  Filled with heart, an underdog hockey team run by women that no one took seriously, and the perfect team of misfits, this book has it all; there is even a cameo by a reader favorite couple from the Fighting Dempsey’s.  I have loved this series from the beginning and reading it during Finals was absolutely perfect.

 

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About the author

Originally from Ireland, Kate Meader cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Harlequins thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, a fire hose, or a hockey stick, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines (and heroes) who can match their men quip for quip. Visit her at KateMeader.com.

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✫★EXERPT★✫

She blew out a breath that was half growl, picked up a can of Italian wedding soup, and examined the ingredient list like she was studying for a test. Why wasn’t she taking this opportunity to get under his skin using those taunts that tripped off her tongue like sensual ninja knives?

“Have I offended you in some way, Violet?”

Keeping her chin dipped, she shook her head, but it was a shake of disbelief, not of disagreement with his question.

“Violet, look at me.”

Glittering eyes snapped to his, in them a flash of something—a visceral response to his demand—but it was gone so quickly that even the rewind called him a liar.

“Has something happened?”

“Look, St. James, you and I have never meshed, so we don’t need to pretend to get along. We just ran into each other at the store and you ‘saved’ me from the unseemly interest of a fellow shopper. ¡Maravilloso! ¡Gracias! Now you can take your steel buns and your sexy scowl off in the opposite direction.”

Color flagged her cheeks, making her olive skin glow. She was furious, and he still didn’t know why. He was also furious, and he had a better idea of the reason.

She’d changed the social contract. They’d been moseying along with her teasing and taunting and flirting, and him acting like it was the worst thing ever to happen to him. Like Violet’s attention was a fresh slice of hell, because in a way it was. She reminded him of everything he couldn’t have. She reminded him of the man he used to be. His body came alive around her, and alive was dangerous. Alive was the opposite of numb, and numb was his best defense against the demons whispering in his ear.

One drink won’t hurt. Thirst like yours can’t be quenched with anything but whiskey.

If he allowed himself to want her, it was a slippery slope to succumbing to the demons at the door. Of course he couldn’t tell her this, so instead he latched on to her words.

“Steel buns?” There was also “sexy scowl,” but he figured he’d start with the ass stuff.

She rolled her eyes, then coasted those same eyes down his body, half hidden by the grocery cart. “As if you don’t know.”

“That I have an ass you could bounce a puck off of?” He twisted to check himself out. “S’pose I do, lass.”

She burst out laughing and muttered something in Spanish.

“What’s that?”

“Not for your ears, Scot.”

One day she’d tell him. One day, he’d get it out of her, preferably while her body arched into his and his body drove into hers.

 

Thesaurus

Great advice. I know I do this when I write as well.

The Second Cycle

I find that using a thesaurus when I write is extremely helpful.  I vary in my search between a right click in my Word document, internet search, and picking up one of the three printed copies I own.  This method is helpful because my vocabulary is lacking for someone who wants writing to be a profession and I suffer from that thing where you can’t recall the word you need, even if you know it, that often results in me describing everyday objects to my husband who then has to interpret what I’m trying to say.  There’s a word for it, but I can’t recall.  I have always endeavored to push through my technical and mechanical shortcomings with writing and to make up for them in genuine passion for storytelling.

But there is a trick to using a thesaurus that started from my genuine insecurity in my own understanding, but…

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To Serial or Not to Serial…

Something I’ve noticed recently is this trend of authors releasing novels in serials. Actually, I don’t know if this is something recent or if I’m just noticing it because my reading has been more varied since I started blogging. Either way, I’m not a fan…

I’m not talking about a series like Outlander, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and (yes…sigh) Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray.  All those were full length novels that were/are part of a larger saga. Something that occurs over time. Each book is a complete story within the larger story.

I’m talking about authors who take a stand-alone novel and release it in segments. I unwittingly got caught in this trap with one of my favorite authors and I was a bit perturbed, to say the least.  

From a marketing standpoint, it’s genius! It builds suspense and anticipation. It leaves the reader hanging on, breathless for the next installment. Eager to shell out their pennies to get their fix. And then there’s the cost. Each serial is sold at $1.99 to $2.99. A three part serial ends up costing the reader $5.97 to $8.97, whereas releasing it as one full novel the price would likely be $2.99 to $3.99. Possibly a little more depending on the author. It absolutely makes sense from a monetary point of view…if you’re the publisher/author.

From a reader/customer point of view…not so much.  Why pay two to three times more for a novel when it’s released as a serial, rather than a single novel? As a consumer, I felt swindled when I paid for a serial without realizing that was what I was buying. There was no warning that said the serial ended in a cliffhanger. Don’t get me wrong, there are authors I will 1-click on principle alone, but I would hesitate if they released a novel as a serial.

As a blogger, it’s hard to provide a concise review of the story as a whole since I review each segment separately. Imagine if you had to provide a review of The Wizard of Oz, but only the black and white part before Dorothy goes to Oz. “Her dog got taken away from her by this mean woman, but she got him back. Then Dorothy ran away and got caught up in a tornado.” It tells you nothing about the overall story.

I commit to review each segment separately when I sign up for for an ARC – there is no waiting until they have all been released. But it’s limiting. I’ve tried to provide an overall review of the book after reading the final portion in instances where I’ve reviewed a novel this way. Each time I’ve struggled, though. In one case the first part was great. It left me on the edge of my seat. I was mad I had to wait for the next installment. But by the finale, I honestly felt a little let down. In another instance, the first part left me feeling rather ambivalent, there wasn’t a lot of set up to judge the book as a whole. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t leave me reeling either. Then, by the end of the book, it all came together and now I can’t wait to see where the author takes the series. 

So those are my personal feelings on the matter. It’s not a negative against authors who chose to go this route, it’s just a personal opinion. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, whether you’re a fellow blogger, a recreational reader, or an author.