After losing her parents in high school, Ryan Landry grew up fast, solely focusing on supporting her younger twin sisters. With the twins now preparing for college, the financial stakes are raised so Ryan enters a restaurant manager of the year contest. Her chances for the grand prize are strong—after all, she’s the executive manager of Everheart Bar and Fine Dining, which is as famous for its exemplary service as it is for its mouth-watering food.
The only thing standing in her way? The restaurant’s Michelin star patriarch chef. Ryan meets his near-impossible challenges, except this creates another obstacle—increased temptation with her best friend and pastry chef Weston Everheart. She’s fought to keep Weston in the friend zone, because romantic fraternization means immediate firing, and she needs her job and the prize money more than ever.
But when she realizes Weston has also been in love with her for years, it becomes impossible to maintain business as usual. Will Ryan play it safe or finally listen to her heart?
CW: Deceased parents (off page background), minor car accident with ER visit
Kasi Blythewood has spent most of her life in the shadow of her famous film producer father who’s deliberately kept her under his thumb with tough love. Ready to make a name for herself, Kasi secretly heads to Austin for a film conference to rustle up some financing for her dream project—an indie series that showcases cuisine from around the world.
When Kasi meets chef Declan Everheart, it’s instant lust spiced with an intriguing business opportunity. Declan’s father, a Michelin star chef, is interested in funding her film, but there is a sexy string attached—Declan must be a producer on her series. Not ideal. Kasi craves independence, and she knows business and pleasure never mix well, but she’s exhausted all other options.
Declan’s more than just eye candy and Kasi’s not blind. She immediately discovers Declan’s not just a natural producer and talented chef, he also shines on camera as the host. Can Kasi convince Declan to break away from his father and build the life he wants…with her?
CW: Deceased parent (off page background), friend in an accident with hospital stay (and followup recovery), friend’s divorce
Aiden Hughes never expected to return to Birdsong, but after a scandal rocked his professional world the former hard-hitting reporter needs a plan B. Covering local events for the small town newspaper after chasing down national news is a huge step backwards. But when he interviews the founder of a dog rescue whose heart is bigger than New York City, he wonders if there’s more to life than his byline in a prestigious paper.
Emily McLane has always had a sweet spot for animals. She plans an ambitious adoption festival to fund the expansion of her beloved dog rescue, but she needs publicity. When a former local boy offers to help her design a promotion, she finds herself falling in love for the first time. They both have big dreams, but Aiden’s will take him far from Birdsong. Will they follow their hearts or are they only falling in puppy love?
From Scottish lairds to billionaire businessmen, Kelsey McKnight will ignite your soul, no matter what century it lives in. Kelsey is a university-educated historian from southern New Jersey. She has married her great loves of romance, history, and literature to create her own tales of dashing heroes, sultry bad boys, and lovable heroines who have their own stories to tell. They will take you through the ballrooms of Victorian London, the hills of the Scottish Highlands, New York City penthouses, and into small towns with big hearts, all at the flip of a page. When she’s not writing, Kelsey can be found reading, drinking too much coffee, spending time with her family, and working for a nonprofit organization.
Sarah Fischer works hard fighting the good fight in personnel security. She graduated with a degree in criminal justice and married the calm to her crazy. Then Sarah had a health scare and needed heart surgery. While recovering, she finally had the time to write the stories playing out in her mind. Her college romantic suspense series, Elton Hall Chronicles, is now available in its entirety on Amazon. First Semester, Second Snowfall, and Third Wheel remind you what you loved about college, show you what you missed, and make you yearn for what could have been. Sarah also has a contemporary short story in the Craving Bad anthology. In her spare time, you’ll find her with a book in her hand, at the movies, or watching just one more episode of reality TV.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but my good friend, Jim Cangany, has a new book out this week. You don’t want to miss it (check out my review here). Scroll down to the bottom for a giveaway opportunity.
Start Your Engines Jim Cangany
Published by: Crimson Romance
Publication date: August 7th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buckle up for a race for the championship and the prize of a lifetime in this heartfelt reunion romance.
When racing team director Brad Thomas needs a new driver, his boss insists there’s only one answer: Gabrielle Marquez. The Indycar ace has newly returned to the United States after becoming one of the European circuit’s top drivers. But ten years ago, Gabrielle caused a crash that ended Brad’s racing career and killed their mutual best friend, along with the burgeoning crush they were exploring.
Gabby’s ready to put the past behind her, even though she knows making amends and regaining Brad’s trust won’t be easy. Rebuilding their professional relationship paves the way for healing, and old feelings soon rekindle, but a rival’s dangerous game of sabotage may threaten their team’s chance at the title.
Then an irresistible offers lands on Gabby’s windshield, forcing her to choose between her heart and her hard-fought career. Will achieving her professional dreams mean personal sacrifice?
The AES machine flashed across the finish line as the starter waved the green flag, the prismatic paint job displaying every color of the spectrum.
“God, she’s beautiful.” The moment Brad had uttered the words, he realized he wasn’t sure if he was referring to the car or its driver. He was happy he didn’t have his microphone on, though.
A video feed of Gabrielle’s progress was in a corner of his computer screen. As she barreled down the long backstretch, which was five-eighths of a mile in length all by itself, he checked her speed. She was zooming at over two hundred miles per hour.
At Gabrielle’s request, the team had disconnected her speedometer. Brad was to report her speed when she finished the first lap and again when she completed the attempt. He was to say nothing else.
Brad held his breath as she flew down the front straight, the song of the turbocharged engine sweeter than an opera singer, and completed lap one. Her speed flashed on the screen. It was all Brad could do to keep from shouting.
“Two hundred point thirteen. Everything looks great.”
The first lap was pole-winning speed.
Down the backstretch and into turn three, the line Gabrielle took was as smooth as soft-serve ice cream. Exiting turn four, she drifted up so close to the white concrete retaining wall, Brad flinched and closed one eye for a moment.
The close call didn’t slow her down, though. She took the checkered flag, completing the run with a two-lap average of 200.2 miles per hour.
“Congrats, Gabrielle, you just set a Continental Series track record.”
“Yes!” Her shout almost burst Brad’s eardrums.
Scott gave Brad a thumbs-up but pointed at the scoring pylon. There were two cars left to make their qualifying attempts. One of them was Chas.
By the time Gabrielle was out of the car and had her helmet off, the number seventy-seven had the first lap in the books at just under 199 miles per hour. He was no threat. The team gathered around her to wait for Chas to make his attempt.
Brad gave Gabrielle a fist bump, but nothing more. He didn’t want to jinx anything.
The Thornton Industries machine looked fast as it took the green flag. Brad reached out and took Gabrielle’s hand. A pleasant tingling sensation went up his arm when they touched. She didn’t pull away. Rather, she held on. It was a perfect fit.
Nobody said anything as Chas came into view coming out of turn four. Brad kept his focus on the scoring pylon as their rival completed lap one.
Gabrielle loosened her grip a touch as the group let out a collective sigh of relief. Chas wasn’t far off Gabrielle’s time, but catching her could be a tall order. It was an order he couldn’t deliver. His second lap was a tick over two hundred miles per hour.
Gabrielle was on the pole.
For the most important race of the season.
At the most historic racing venue on Earth.
Amid a cacophony of whoops and shouts of elation, Brad took Gabrielle by the shoulders.
“You did it.” At that moment, someone bumped him into Gabrielle, which brought his lips to hers. The moment they made contact, fireworks went off. Brad wasn’t sure if they were real or imagined, but he didn’t care. Kissing the woman in his arms was electrifying.
Her lips were soft, with a hint of blueberry from her lip balm. His thumb stroked her cheek and wiped away a tear. All too soon, she pulled back. He opened his eyes to find her red-cheeked but smiling from ear to ear. He recovered his senses enough to take her wrist and raise her arm.
“Presenting your pole winner for the Memorial One Hundred, Gabrielle Marquez.”
A lifelong resident of the State of Indiana, Jim Cangany is proud to call himself a Hoosier. The youngest of eight children, he grew up in a household full of books and people. Thanks to the influence of his older siblings, Jim gravitated toward fantasy and sci-fi when looking for something to read. He wrote his first story at age fourteen. A school project, The Magic Coin was a fantasy that involved a king, some bad guys, and, not surprisingly, a magical token.
These days, Jim writes romance on the sweet end. If you ask him what is a guy like him is doing writing romance, he’ll reply, “Those are the stories in my head.” A believer that the world has enough doom and gloom, he likes stories with a happy ending, regardless of genre.
He lives in Indianapolis with his wonderful wife Nancy, sons, Seamus and Aidan, and kitty-cat Maria.
I’ve read this author before and he writes great sports romances. More than that, he actually makes obscure sports interesting and a wonderful backdrop to the romance happening between the main characters. Not to say that open-wheel racing (yup I learned a new term) is obscure. I know it isn’t however it is obscure to me having never watched a race in my entire life… and I’m a mega sports fan. After reading this story though, I actually watched racing that happened to be on when I flipped the television on Saturday. That’s the thing with this author – he doesn’t hit you over the head with the sport, but he does effortlessly weaves the action into the story where by the end, you’ve learned enough to be dangerous.
Cangany writes sweet romance so I’ll lodge my long-standing complaint there wasn’t enough heat for my liking, but there was passion between the main characters, and love. Their backstory was unique enough to pique my interest and although this was certainly guaranteed to be a HEA, I was a little concerned with our lovers’ fate.
Highly recommend for anyone who likes any romance, sweet, sports, or otherwise.
Oh, a warning. Do NOT finish this book the night before you have a 3-hour road trip. You may or may not break some speeding laws.
Full disclosure – I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I’m such a history fan. I loved reading one with POCs being brave and covert and important, and based on real characters. I recommend this highly to fans of histfic AND romance. Yes, there’s a hot romance too!
Please hurry and give us the next installment in this series!
TITLE:Déjà You PUBLISHER: Emerald Lily Publishing RELEASE DATE: May 30, 2017
In Déjà You, five authors share stories of second chances, as varied in telling as the writers themselves.
Kelly Cain’s We’ll Always Have Oahu takes us on a whirlwind New Adult romance set in the 80s between a young woman on a high school graduation trip and a handsome Navy sailor.
Bianca M. Schwarz transports us to 1760 in The Pearl with the story of Marcus Landover, who attends a card party and ends up with more than he bargained for in the beautiful Sophia Chelmsford.
Amanda Linsmeier’s Joy and Sorrow reunites lovers separated by death in a Women’s Fiction tinged with the unusual.
The Eyes of the Heart by Jamie McLachlan gives us Rosalina, who is forced to confront her attraction and the truth about her blindness when a new gardener is hired at the Greystone house.
Finally, C.H. Armstrong brings us Mr. Midnight, where tragedy reunites two star-crossed lovers, but misunderstandings soon rip them apart. Now, six years later, the stars are realigning with the help of the smooth voice of a late night radio DJ.
Some of the stories are sweet, some sad, some steamy, but all carry the same theme. Déjà You is a collection of stories for those who believe in love, but most of all, second chances.
The Birth of Déjà You
About two years ago, a group of five novice writers signed with the same small publisher, each inexperienced in the publishing world yet committed to understanding the process and finding success. Through their mutual dive into unchartered territory, Amanda Linsmeier, Bianca M. Schwarz, C.H. Armstrong, Kelly Cain, and Jamie McLachlan reached out to one another and became instant friends, sharing laughs, tears, and the struggles of life and writing. We soon dubbed ourselves “Book Besties.”
During the fall of 2016, we decided to write a book of short stories together. As friends, we wanted to combine our talents to create a collection that would inspire hope and happiness. After much deliberation, we chose the theme “Second Chances” and decided to title this anthology, “Déjà You.” Though each story contains the same theme, they all are as unique as the author who wrote it. Including New Adult, Women’s Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, and Contemporary Romance, each short offers a different take on the theme and involves varying heat levels, from sweet to steamy.
About the Authors
Kelly Cain has published a multicultural adult and new adult romance, but she writes across genres and age groups, currently penning book one of a young adult urban fantasy series. Most of her stories are set in Texas with frequent travels to her home state of California, and all of her stories have an excess of food weaved throughout.
If she’s not writing, she’s probably reading. Or maybe cooking. Check out her website for recipes for dishes featured in her books, and some other fun stuff. She has two adult daughters and lives in a suburb of Houston, Texas.
Bianca M Schwarz was born in Germany, spent her formative years in London, and has a US passport, but she considers herself a world citizen. She lives in Los Angeles because that’s where they make movies and she used to work on them. She writes novels because that’s kind of like making a movie in people’s heads and because she just loves books. Bianca has one son, because that’s all she can handle and she tolerates her husband because, well, she loves him and there is no help for that. Visit her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Amanda Linsmeier is the author of Ditch Flowersand Beach Glass & Other Broken Things. Her writing has been featured in Portage Magazine, Literary Mama, and Brain, Child Magazine. Besides writing Women’s Fiction, she loves reading and writing fables, fairytales, and fantasy, and sometimes she pretends her Hogwarts letter is still coming. She can be found blogging about writing and books at amandalinsmeier.com. When she’s not writing, she works part-time at her local library and brings home more books than she has time to read. Amanda lives in the countryside, surrounded by trees, with her family, two dogs, and two half-wild cats. You can Amanda’s blog for book reviews and random musings, or check her out on Twitter or Facebook for more information.
Jamie McLachlan is the Canadian author of Mind of the Phoenix, an Amazon Bestseller in Dark Fantasy and the first novel in the Memory Collector Series. The third, Rise of the Phoenix, is set for release in summer of 2017. When not writing, Jamie reads, dabbles in various crafts, and spends time with her family. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.
C.H. Armstrong is an Oklahoma-native transplanted in the Midwest. A life-long lover of books, she made her author debut with the 2016 release of her historical fiction novel, The Edge of Nowhere, which was inspired by her own family’s struggles during the one-two punch that was The Great Depression and The Dust Bowl. Armstrong is currently working on two young adult novels and is a regular contributor to the Minnesota-based women’s magazine, Rochester Women. Visit her on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.
For more information on Déjà You or the Book Besties, visit their website, or find them on Twitter or Facebook.
Time Out is the third book in the Irving University series and although I have read the previous two (see my reviews here and here), I believe this could be read as a standalone. There are characters from the other books, but the author does a great job giving enough background to catch you up to speed quickly.
The main character, Karen, is a middle-grade teacher and basketball coach, not unlike her older brother, Greg, who coaches women’s basketball at fictional Irving University. She was once a promising player until her ulcerative colitis got in her way. She isn’t bitter about it, but chooses to use her gifts however she can. She is laid off from her teaching job at the end of the term, so Greg is able to get her a temporary job at Irving running the girls basketball camp over the summer. He also secures her temporary housing. Enter her landlord and neighbor, Terry, and his energetic daughter, Hanna. Hanna, a middle-grade student who wants to play basketball, makes instant friends with Karen who becomes a big help for Terry, a single father who’s struggling to make ends meet.
I’ve mentioned before (probably in my other Irving reviews) that I’m not big on sweet romance. However when reading this series, I never feel like I’m missing out on something. The author does a great job of giving us the satisfying romance. He also shows us a different slice of life we may not be familiar with. Terry’s mom is Native American and we learn some new things in that area. He’s in building construction and a single dad – again we can feel what that likes from his perspective. Karen has a condition I’d not heard much about before, and now I know so much more. The author does not shy aware from racial issues and prejudice, however I do believe he lets Marie off the hook a little easily (you’ll have to read to know what I’m referring to).
Overall, another very solid offering from Jim Cangany which I enjoyed very much. It was a little lighter on the sports this time, but of course it was still running in the background. I would recommend to anyone who likes romance, especially on the sweet side.
I read the first book in this series, and mistakenly thought the second book would be about the male main character’s sister (that’s book three which I’m looking forward to). When I found out it was about the female main character’s best friend, I internally groaned. I barely tolerated Ciara, and mostly disliked her because she was always listening to her mean best friend. I couldn’t imagine sitting through a whole book about this woman.
Whelp, I think I may like this one more than the first. There’s a little backstory, of course, which has shaped Marie into the woman she is and how she presents herself to the world. I think what makes her more likeable is how Cangany brilliantly gives us a nemesis we really dislike. Helen is reprehensible and sadly, believable, because I’ve personally experienced people like her.
The love interest is quite likable, attentive, hot, and everything a love interest should be. He has an interesting job and reason for being on campus which was fun to follow. Sports is truly my life, but I don’t usually follow triathlons (nor triathletes), but that angle was never boring.
And to really knock it out of the park for me… not one, but TWO Jason Mraz song references. Enough said.