Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Lion's Den by Katherine St. John

When Belle's best friend, Summer, invites her on a luxury yacht trip to Europe, of course Belle accepts! But in the weeks leading up to the trip, things between Belle and Summer go drastically downhill. Still, it would be rude to back out of the trip at the last minute.

Paradise it may be, but things are definitely not what Belle expected. For one thing, Summer's rich boyfriend appears to be extremely controlling. And not just of Summer. All of Summer's friends are under strict orders to follow his every instruction. And the friction between Belle and Summer is undeniable! 

As the trip wears on, things begin to go from awkward to downright sinister. Belle believes her emails are being read and the guests are locked in their cabins at night. Is it security or is it something darker? 

The Lion's Den is a darkly comic and unabashedly fun debut!

Belle is a struggling actress who's almost perpetually broke. She's been friends with Summer since they were teenagers, offering up her couch any time Summer needs a place to stay (which is often). 

Summer has made it plain that her goal is to find a rich man to take care of her and she's convinced her new boyfriend is the one. And Belle couldn't be happier for her, at first. But something happens in the weeks leading up to the trip, something that plays out in flashbacks as the story progresses, giving the reader the opportunity to see exactly why things have taken a turn between the once close besties. 

I absolutely did not expect this book to take the turn that it did! And I loved it! I will admit, some of the twist was easy to figure out, but only as it became closer to being revealed in the narrative itself. And again, it was not what I expected at all when the book began!

This is the perfect summer read (both for reading in summer AND for reading anytime you want a slice of summer in your life!). The setting is exclusive and the prose is vivid and playful. Highly recommended for anyone in search of a book that's pure, darker, entertainment!

Buy a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Feature: Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory

Happy Book Birthday to Jasmine Guillory! Party of Two, the latest in the Wedding Date series, is available today!

I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Guillory's books and am definitely in the mood for some lighter fare of late (hence yesterday's post!). Here's a little bit about Party of Two from Goodreads:

A chance meeting with a handsome stranger turns into a whirlwind affair that gets everyone talking.

Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe's mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can't resist--it is chocolate cake, after all.

Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble--not just some privileged white politician she assumed him to be. Because of Max's high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?

Note that while the books are connected, this is a series in the loosest sense! Think circle of friends rather than having to read them in order. (Though from what I hear, once you read one you'll definitely want to dive into the others!)

While it certainly stinks not being able to go to author events, it's pretty cool that the wealth of virtual events being hosted right now are available to anyone who wants to attend. Guillory is doing a number of them, I encourage you to check the list out here

Order Party of Two from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Monday, June 22, 2020

A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos

Lumi Santana is crushed when she loses her restaurant. Now, with debt piling up and no other choice, she has to take a job working with a man who infuriates her to no end! What's more, Lumi's ability (curse) of tasting a cook's emotions in their food, means she will never, ever touch a dish made by the man.

Julien Dax is known for his strict French cooking and his command of his kitchen. But when he hires Lumi as his sous chef, he finds that her tendency to ad lib recipes at will is charming. As time goes by, he finds himself falling for the strong willed chef, willing to do whatever it takes to win her over. 

But Lumi has so many reasons to resist. Her main reason: men cannot be trusted! The job is a means to an end, paying off her debt and saving to start a new restaurant venture. And no matter how much she finds herself warming to him, she vows never to become involved! Unfortunately for Lumi, Julien's own talents are a bit harder to resist and she finds herself, in spite of everything, secretly sampling his cooking. What she discovers surprises her to no end! But will her growing taste for his dishes lead to something more or will Lumi find once again that falling for, and relying on, a man will lead to disaster?

If you're looking for a lighter read, you cannot go wrong with Yaffa S. Santos's debut!

Lumi is a strong-willed Dominican chef intent on sharing her culture and her passion for food with everyone around her. And she does that through her restaurant, Caraluna. But Lumi's regulars aren't enough to keep her restaurant going and, unfortunately, she eventually has to give up the business. 

Meanwhile, Julien Dax has lost yet another sous chef. He's bossy and particular and not one to let even the smallest slight go. 

Sadly, Lumi's first run in with Julien is not a pleasant one and when she applies, and gets an interview, for a sous chef position a friend alerts her to and discovers it's working for Julien, she's definitely not going to take it! But, the need for an influx of cash is too much and Julien convinces her to give it a try. 

The two chefs are both stubborn in their own right. And they both have baggage galore! Add to that Lumi's synesthesia, which allows her to taste a cook's emotions, and you have a recipe for a tantalizingly steamy read!

A Taste of Sage reminded me just a bit of the Sarah Michelle Gellar film, Simply Irresistible, where people can taste her emotions in the foods she cooks. This is the opposite and it's kind of a plague for Lumi. Most of the time, unless she's cooking for herself, she limits herself to processed foods so that she doesn't have to worry about any nasty emotions seeping into the flavors of the meals she eats. But when she really trusts someone, she does let them cook for her. Considering the fact that cooking for someone can be quite an intimate act, and this is a rom com about two chefs, it adds an interesting flavor to the book. 

A Taste of Sage is a sweet read with just the right amount of drama, steam, and food. Oh, and there are recipes too!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

American Demon by Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison is back with the 14th installment to the Hollows series! I don't think anyone ever suspected this book was coming. Harrison's last foray into Rachel Morgan's world was the 2017 release of The Turn, the prequel about the beginnings of the infection that wiped out humans. Before that, it was the "last" installment in the series, The Witch With No Name, which released way back in 2014. So yeah, as a Hollows fan, I was elated to hear that we were going to be returning to the series at long last!

Rachel saved the world. Now what? 

Now, she's trying to rebuild the damaged church she and her partners once called home. She's trying to help maintain the peace between the newly released demons and everyone else. And she's trying to move on in general. But zombies are wandering the city, elven politics are complicating everything, and it appears someone is targeting couples in a most bizarre and random seeming series of murders that has the authorities stumped. Which means they've turned their suspicions on the demons. Something Rachel is none too pleased about!

Oh, it's been so long! And I have to say returning to this series is so welcome right now! But it has made me nostalgic for a time that's so far gone for me it's not even funny!

Dead Witch Walking released way back in 2004. I was still living in Louisiana, working at Barnes and Noble, and I believe it was my first real foray into urban fantasy. How I loved it! The premise was that all of the "others" (witches, vampires, pixies, weres, elves...) have been outed thanks to a virus that wiped out much of regular old humanity. A virus that spread thanks to genetically engineered tomatoes—so humans can't even eat pizza anymore without a risk!

So much has changed since then, both for me and for the series. Rachel and her friends grew and evolved with each new installment and I was there every step of the way. So returning to the series has been like visiting old friends I haven't seen for quite some time (and has me nostalgic for actual old friends I haven't seen for quite some time!). 

American Demon does pick up in the immediate aftermath of The Witch With No Name. Fortunately, the book begins with a refresher to bring you back up to speed. And it doesn't take long to sink back into the familiar world of the Hollows!

I'll say it again: This book is such a welcome return to the series and I know longtime fans are going to be more than pleased! And it's my understanding that Harrison is working on yet another Hollows book as we speak!

If you somehow missed this series the first time around and are curious and want to start from the beginning, here's the series list in order (note, I'm only listing the novels—there are a slew of short stories as well): 

Dead Witch Walking
The Good, the Bad and the Undead
Every Which Way But Dead
A Fistful of Charms
For a Few Demons More
The Outlaw Demon Wails
White Witch, Black Curse
Black Magic Sanction
Pale Demon
A Perfect Blood
Ever After
The Undead Pool
The Witch With No Name

Order them from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Charlotte's life has never been an easy one. She struggled and worked for everything that she had, and it was never enough. But fate introduced Paul into her life and everything changed for the better. 

Paul is older, widowed, and insanely rich. And much of their small town has judged young Charlotte for their marriage. But Charlotte and Paul are in love and their relationship is a good one. And now they're expecting. But on the morning after Charlotte tells Paul the good news, she discovers a dead body floating under their dock. 

Paul isn't home when it happens but Charlotte recognizes the woman as one she saw Paul talking to just one day prior. But when Paul is questioned by the police he says he has no idea who the woman is. He then immediately sets off to find his friend Jax, the town's local eccentric, leaving Charlotte to deal with further questions and the investigation. 

Charlotte isn't sure why Paul lied about the woman. She also isn't sure what caused him to run to seek out Jax. But she knows that she has to protect him at all cost. Because when Paul's former wife died, it was in the very same lake. And Paul was a prime suspect. 

Kimberly Belle's latest is a great suspense story that builds fabulously until the final reveal!

Charlotte, as she likes to be called (only her brother is allowed to call her Charlie), is immediately likable. The book begins with her setting off in their boat to pick Paul up from work. The weather is cold and dreary and her old beater can't really make treacherous road conditions. And Paul's car has been taken to the shop for last minute repairs. And it's all of this that leads to her finding a body. 

The following morning, she realizes that in her rush to get inside after telling Paul about the baby, she left her phone and some important documents in the boat. 

Paul is out on a run and the weather is threatening to get worse, so she can't wait for him to trek down to the dock to do it. And boy what a surprise she finds waiting for her!

Charlotte is definitely planning to stand by her man but as the book continues even she begins to have doubts. Two women found in the same spot? Add to that Paul's definitely skirting of the truth when it comes to the latest body. But she knows her husband. He's a good man. He'd been broken up for so long about the death of his wife and this woman is a stranger, regardless of the fact that she saw her husband talking to her just the day before. Surely he can't have had anything to do with it?

Stranger in the Lake isn't quite a slow burn but it's definitely more suspense than a faster-paced thriller. And this gives the reader a chance to really get to know Charlotte, Paul, Chet (Charlotte's brother), and even Paul's group of friends.

I quite enjoyed this latest outing from Belle! It proved to be a perfect escape and an excellent hammock read!

Buy a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Feature: Always the Last to Know by Kristan Higgins

Happy Book Release Week to Kristan Higgins whose latest, Always the Last to Know, hit shelves yesterday!

Here's a bit about the book from the publisher: 

The Frosts are a typical American family. Barb and John, married almost fifty years, are testy and bored with each other...who could blame them after all this time? At least they have their daughters-- Barb's favorite, the perfect, brilliant Juliet; and John's darling, the free-spirited Sadie. The girls themselves couldn't be more different, but at least they got along, more or less. It was fine. It was enough.

Until the day John had a stroke, and their house of cards came tumbling down.

Now Sadie has to put her career as a teacher and struggling artist in New York on hold to come back and care for her beloved dad--and face the love of her life, whose heart she broke, and who broke hers. Now Juliet has to wonder if people will notice that despite her perfect career as a successful architect, her perfect marriage to a charming Brit, and her two perfect daughters, she's spending an increasing amount of time in the closet having panic attacks.

And now Barb and John will finally have to face what's been going on in their marriage all along.

From the author of Good Luck with That and Life and Other Inconveniences comes a new novel of heartbreaking truths and hilarious honesty about what family really means.

Order it from your favorite indie!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Feature: The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

Happy Book Birthday to Sara Desai whose debut, The Marriage Game, releases today!

Here's a bit about the book from Goodreads:

A high stakes wager pits an aspiring entrepreneur against a ruthless CEO in this sexy romantic comedy.

After her life falls apart, recruitment consultant Layla Patel returns home to her family in San Francisco. But in the eyes of her father, who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, she can do no wrong. He would do anything to see her smile again. With the best intentions in mind, he offers her the office upstairs to start her new business and creates a profile on an online dating site to find her a man. She doesn’t know he’s arranged a series of blind dates until the first one comes knocking on her door…

As CEO of a corporate downsizing company Sam Mehta is more used to conflict than calm. In search of a quiet new office, he finds the perfect space above a cozy Indian restaurant that smells like home. But when communication goes awry, he's forced to share his space with the owner's beautiful yet infuriating daughter Layla, her crazy family, and a parade of hopeful suitors, all of whom threaten to disrupt his carefully ordered life.

As they face off in close quarters, the sarcasm and sparks fly. But when the battle for the office becomes a battle of the heart, Sam and Layla have to decide if this is love or just a game.

This is the first in a new series from Desai (who also writes as Sarah Castille). I also want to add that this is an #OwnVoices novel. It sounds super fun and light and I can't wait to dive in!

(If you want a little taste of the novel, you can check out an excerpt and an audio sample over on the author's website!) If you love it, be sure to order a copy from your favorite indie bookstore or Libro.fm!