Monday, December 5, 2022

Copper Waters

Copper Waters by Marlene M. Bell

(Annalisse, #4)
Publication date: December 5th 2022
Genres: Adult, Crime, Mystery

A rural New Zealand vacation turns poisonous.

Antiquities expert Annalisse Drury and tycoon Alec Zavos are at an impasse in their relationship when Alec refuses to clear up a paternity issue with an ex-lover.

Frustrated with his avoidance when their future is at stake, Annalisse accepts an invitation from an acquaintance to fly to New Zealand—hoping to escape the recent turbulence in her life.

But even Annalisse’s cottage idyll on the family sheep farm isn’t immune to intrigue.

Alec sends a mutual friend and detective, Bill Drake, to follow her, and a local resident who accompanies them from the Christchurch airport dies mysteriously soon after. A second violent death finds Annalisse and Bill at odds with the official investigations.

The local police want to close both cases as quickly as possible—without unearthing the town’s dirty secrets.

As she and Bill pursue their own leads at serious cost, the dual mysteries force Annalisse to question everything she thought she knew about family ties, politics, and the art of small-town betrayal.

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“Nothing’s sinking in.” I pass the note to Alec and prepare myself. “Would you mind reading it aloud?”

“She and Ethan traveled together.” He gazes at me.

“Okay, we’d considered that.”

“Kate has business to conclude in New Zealand before she returns to New York. She asks me not to mention this to you until she arrives in the States but didn’t give a reason. Kate says she’ll meet you in person when she’s ready.”

“Seriously? Where does she plan to live? With me in Greenwich? The Goshen farm could be sold by now. Does she mention Jeremy finding her another place?”

Alec scans the page randomly. “No, she didn’t.”

I scratch my scalp and shake my head. “Then my sheep station trip to New Zealand is perfect timing. I have to leave now and see if I can catch her before she skips out. Ethan must know where Kate is. If it’s all the same, we’ll hang on to the tickets for our April trip, and I’ll buy my own way for this flight.” Tugging at my sweatshirt with clammy hands, I take the note from Alec and sail it into the flames, watching paper crinkle and burn on the log.

He steps forward, his chiseled profile gawking at the fire in disbelief.

“Were you ever going to tell me about Kate’s message?” A sob chokes my windpipe. “If it weren’t for Ethan’s invite, I doubt that we’d be talking about Kate.”

“Babe, I thought by staying neutral…” He twists his lips and looks at his shoes. “Seeing your reaction now; it was a mistake not to tell you.”

“That totally blows.” I ball my hands into fists. “More like you were afraid that I’d run down there to find her.” I’m mad enough to send smoke signals, so I take slower, calming breaths.

“If I’d told you… Yeah, I worried you’d run off. The ordeal in Italy, then Peter Gregory terrorizing you, and Helga has had barely enough time to settle around here. Your safety doesn’t include encouraging you to hop on a plane to another country so soon after a trauma like that. Waiting for Kate’s return felt right to me. At some point, I hope you’ll see things from my side. Kate put me in the middle, but it’s you I worry about.”

Willing myself to relax, I take his hand to get him to focus on me instead of the floor. “I know that.”

Peter Gregory, an old coworker from my past job at another gallery, is responsible for a young woman’s murder in Lecce, near the Mediterranean Sea on Italy’s eastern shore. Alec and I went to Southern Italy for a working vacation that spun us into solving more than one homicide in order for Alec to sell his dad’s Signorile Corporation, a sports car company.

“After a shower, I’ll give your mom a call from the car on the way home. I might have trouble getting a flight out on the spur of the moment, but if I do, I hope you’ll help me.”

“Anna, we should discuss this.” He catches my wrist. “I’d like to go along. Say the word, and I’m on that plane with you. Allow what’s happened with Kate to simmer. You might feel differently in the morning.”

Grasping Kate’s locket beneath my shirt, I slide the chain over my head and cup Alec’s hand, dropping the necklace there.

“Hold on to my locket while I’m gone. It’s the most precious thing I own. That way, you’ll know I’m coming back to you.” On my tiptoes, our salty kiss calls a loneliness— In a flash, two people are about to have a hemisphere drifting between them from outside influences that want to manipulate us. “Gen will be here to see Noah in a few hours, and you have him until Sunday. Let me go, Alec, and please wait for me at Brookehaven. I have to make this trip by myself. If there’s the slightest chance that Kate’s with Ethan or he knows where she is, I have to go. I’ve already lost precious time.” I start for the drawing room doors and remember something left undone. “Oh, and sorry for the sticky mess in your stable office.”

In a dead run, I’m biting a quivering lip. On the way to Alec’s bedroom suite, I send Chase a text to hold Ethan’s box and note for me at the gallery. True to form, Kate shoves us all out of our comfort zones, where I’m certain to find a disaster waiting for me to book a ticket to New Zealand in a mad rush.


Marlene M. Bell is an award-winning writer and acclaimed artist as well as a photographer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News, to name a few.

Her catalog Ewephoric began in 1985 out of her desire to locate personalized sheep stationery. She rarely found sheep products through catalogs and set out to design them herself. Ewephoric gifts may be ordered online or request a catalog at TexasSheep.com.

Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside in beautiful East Texas on a wooded ranch with their dreadfully spoiled horned Dorset sheep, a large Maremma guard dog named, Tia, along with Hollywood, Leo and Squeaks, the cats that believe they rule the household—and do.

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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Love Report

Love Report by Shellee Marie

Publication date: December 19th 2022
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance

Professional baseball player Dan Pelameno struck out with the woman of his dreams. So, when she calls to set up an exclusive television interview with him, he jumps at the second chance to set things right. He let her slip away once, but he won’t make the same mistake.

Celebrity news reporter Kendra Star thought she had moved on from her ex, Dan until she had to see him again for a work assignment. When the encounter lands him a gig at her job, she promises to keep her distance from him and his charming ways. But the more she has to work with him, the harder he is to resist.

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“Kendra!”

I jolted my head up to Jay, and he eyed me warily. “As I was saying, now that the whole fiasco with Melanie is over, CEN needs a new direction…a new angle. We want to listen to the viewers. We want to be more positive with our programming,” he said, standing up from his perched position on his desk.

He ran his hands over his mouth and jolted his eyes at the massive coffee stain on my dress. “You missed your mouth?”

“Ah, you could say that,” I said.

He walked over to the cabinet in the corner of his office and pulled out a handkerchief. “Here, take this,” he said.

I took the handkerchief and motioned to wipe my dress. “Thank you so much! I didn’t have any napkins in my office.”

Jay raised his arms, stopping me. “No, no, no. Don’t wipe the stain with it. Put it under yourself, so you won’t mess up my leather chair.”
“Oh,” I said, raising my backside slightly and placing it underneath me.

Once my embarrassment eased, I ruminated over the words he’d said earlier, “new direction.” I’d heard them before. Only last time, that direction hadn’t included me, but my replacement, celebrity slayer Melanie. She’d damaged so many of CEN’s celebrity relationships it was difficult to imagine a positive comeback.

Although, somehow, I’d managed to come back in more ways than one. During my prolonged stint of unemployment, my bill collectors started to call me more than my relatives. I couldn’t have that happen again. I shook my head and focused on Jay’s words as he dropped his hand from his mouth.

He hovered over his desk, then placed his palms down onto the surface as if steadying himself in front of me. I shifted in my chair under his gaze.

“Someone reached out to the director of programming and suggested we do an apology tour. So, now upper management wants us to repair the relationships that Melanie damaged,” he said.

“Apology tour?”

“Yep, a series of intimate, heartfelt, sit-down interviews with each of the celebrities harmed to show them in a better light. But at the same time, it could also show CEN in a better light. In addition to fixing the relationships, of course. A second chance do-over of sorts.”

I nodded without hesitation or shame. I was a damn good interviewer, and I knew heartfelt. I wasn’t perfect, but I threw my heart into everything I did. “I can do that,” I said.

Jay smiled at me like a proud father and pointed in my direction. “I know you can. And there’s no one else I would’ve trusted to do it. We have to show everyone we’re still the same ole CEN.”

Moments like this were rare with Jay. They always made me think that if I worked harder, maybe I could have more of them. I mentally repeated his next statement in his hint of a New York accent because I knew it by heart.

“CEN is that old friend you can rely on to keep you up to date on trends,” he said. But, then, “Only now we keep you up to date on our friends.”

Hmm, that last part was new.

I nodded at his cringeworthy new phrase, attempting to detour him from the inevitable tangent that usually followed his “profound” statements. “So, who’s first on our apology tour?” I asked brightly.

“Well, the caller suggested Dan Pelameno.” He shook his head, then said, “The way we screwed over that guy’s marriage, I’d say I agree.”

I froze. Did he say, Dan Pelameno?

I stuttered, searching for my next words. “I — I think I read somewhere that Dan and his w-wife… ex-wife…are on good terms. So, it would probably be way more harmful to him to potentially rehash things with an interview.”

“Nonsense, it’ll be great. Our fans love Dan, and Dan loves the spotlight. So, just avoid harsh questions, and it’ll be fine.”

“But —”

Jay raised his hand and closed his eyes before narrowing them on me intensely. “This is a crucial opportunity for this company and, quite frankly, for you as well. Show the execs why you were worth that raise. Get Pelameno’s number and schedule the interview with him personally. We can’t mess this up. The network took a hit with that Melanie bullshit. We need this. You need this.”

I nodded and rose from my seat. “Yes, Jay. Thank you for the opportunity.”

Defeated, I headed for the door, but Jay stopped me to say, “And Kendra?”

“Yes?” I asked.

“Welcome back.”

#

“Shit, shit, shit,” I said, closing my door and pushing my back against it. I’d trudged the hall slowly, hoping for a distraction on the way, but, of course, my coworkers were nowhere in sight when I needed one.

I took in my office. It was still empty from the day I had to pack everything up in a box and carry it out. The fun knick-knacks and trinkets I’d collected during segments and guest appearances were still packed up at home. It was another reminder that my life had been completely thrown off kilter.

I tapped my head against the door. Dan Pelameno? Maybe there’s more than one? Surely not? Who am I kidding? There can only be one Dan.

Despite Jay’s directive, I didn’t need to search for Dan’s number. I already had it. I slid down the length of the door and stared at my phone over on the desk, working up the courage to call my ex. Well, almost ex…



Shellee holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. She also has two minors in Women’s Studies and Political Science.

Shellee is an avid reader, and in her spare time, she can frequently be found curled up with a good book. She loves a wide variety of formats and genres. She also enjoys spending time with her brilliant daughter, Trinity, and her favorite pups, Myla and Chino.

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Friday, December 2, 2022

Forever, Plus One

Forever, Plus One by Wendy Warren

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, 
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Pages: 288
Published: August 23rd 2022 by Harlequin Special Edition
Rescued…by the brother of the (ex-)groom!

Nikki Choi loves the boisterous family she was adopted into as a baby. But dreams of her own happy-ever-after are dashed when her fiancé suddenly calls off the wedding. Leave it to her BFF to come to her rescue! Evan Northrup is the perfect faux beau, offering support and making no demands—making her feel loved.  But the single dad seems intent on keeping things pretend, while Nikki is shocked to be falling wildly, deeply for her old friend…

Nikkis wedding was only days away when her fiance called it off. Evan the ever supportive best friend is there for her. They did at a moment together in the past but it seems that feeling they had only seemed to have grown.

This was a nice little contemporary romance. I mean Nikki Choi was adopted and is in a loving family and wants to create one of her own and it just wasn't meant to be. But then again when I found out the issues they were having whew she really dodged a bullet I mean I hated how much he focused on fitness and loosing weight and it really messed with her mentally. I loved seeing Nikki and Evans relationship. They were friends to begin with which is a great start in knowing they cared for eachother being a great support for one another but then there was that one night but they didn't want to ruin a already great relationship and now there is nothing in the way of that. There was plenty to enjoy about this book and overall would recommend any reader to check this book out. 

The Billionaire’s Arrangement

The Billionaire’s Arrangement by Amélie S. Duncan

(The Kept Trilogy, #1)
Publication date: December 11th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Paul Crane is rich, brilliant, and powerful. And I belong to him, body and soul…

I came to New York City to study design and build a life for myself. I was young, naive, and the last thing I was looking for was love.
I needed money for my family and the medical bills that threatened us into poverty. I didn’t have time to worry about my loneliness,
to fill that cold empty spot in my heart…

At first, it seemed like Paul was the answer to all my problems. But after he rescued me from a desperate situation,
I soon discovered Paul had demons of his own.

Paul wasn’t looking for a lover… He wanted a companion, a kept woman. And I was captivated by his charm, lavish gifts, and trips to Paris.
And his touch awakened my desires, passions I had never dreamed of.

But the closer we get, the more I begin to wonder. What happens when our arrangement comes to an end…

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Amelie S. Duncan writes steamy, sexy stories. Her inspiration comes from many sources including her life experiences and travels. She lives on the West Coast of the United States with her husband.

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Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Savage Rage of Fallen Gods

The Savage Rage of Fallen Gods by JA Huss writing as KC Cross

(Savage Falls, #1)
Publication date: August 8th 2023
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Love can ruin the best of men—even the God of Love himself.

Love.
When mutual, it’s Heaven on Earth.
When one-sided, it can tear you apart.
There is no greater weapon than the heartsick soul.
That is the power I wield, for I am the God of Love.
No one has power like me.
No one can poison a heart and pollute a mind the way I can.
That is why the gods kicked me out.
That is why they made me fall.

But now I’m back.
I’m going to ruin kings.
I’m going to destroy gods.
I’m going to crush the whole wicked world with the power of the broken heart.

Well, that was the plan.
And then, out of nowhere, there she was.
After two-thousand years, there she was.
The one who made me love her.
The one who stole my heart and then broke it.

She is how the gods ruined me.
And now it’s my turn to ruin her.

The Savage Rage of Fallen Gods is a story of a broken heart. It is a tale of regret, and promises, and how revenge can darken a god’s soul. It is a standalone book in a brand new series by New York Times bestselling author, JA Huss, writing as KC Cross.

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JA Huss is a New York Times Bestselling author and has been on the USA Today Bestseller's list 21 times. She writes characters with heart, plots with twists, and perfect endings. Her books have sold millions of copies all over the world. Her book, Eighteen, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award and an Audie Award in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her audiobook, Mr. Perfect, was nominated for a Voice Arts Award in 2017. Her audiobook, Taking Turns, was nominated for an Audie Award in 2018. Her book, Total Exposure, was nominated for a RITA Award in 2019.

Find her here: www.jahuss.com

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Godparent Trap

The Godparent Trap by Rachel Van Dyken

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, 
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Pages: 333
Published:  July 19th 2022 by Forever
Life's Too Short meets The Unhoneymooners in this sparkling, steamy, and swoon-worthy novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken, in which two sworn enemies must share house, home—and maybe their hearts—when they become co-parents after a sudden loss.

Colby's living her best life: as a popular food blogger, she gets to fulfill her dreams of exploring the globe. But her world comes crashing down when a tragic accident leaves her co-guardian of her best friend's two adorable children. Not only does she need to put down roots—fast—but she'll be sharing custody with the one man she can't stand sharing a continent with, let alone a house.  

Accountant-extraordinaire Rip values rules and plans. But when he loses his sister and his best friend and becomes an insta-guardian all in one night, Rip sees his organized life imploding. What he really doesn't need is his sister's irresponsible, flighty—albeit kind and gorgeous—best friend making it worse.

Rip doesn't trust Colby to take their new responsibilities seriously, while Colby can't believe Rip thinks children will thrive under his rigid control. Yet soon Rip and Colby discover they need each other more than they hate each other. Could it be possible that following their hearts is just what their new little family needs? 

Colby is enjoying her life as a food blogger and free lifestyle and was thrown when the passing of her best friends leaves her with their children. Rip is brother to the couple that passed and is also now guardian to the two children and he's as straight laced as they come. Both can't help but seem to clash but will do everything they can for the children.

If you enjoy the frenemies to lovers trope you'll like this one. Both are so different with what they do and lifestyle choices and now they are through grief learning to be good parents and working together to set aside differences to do what they can for the children. I liked seeing how quirky the characters were, they were by no means perfect but they were trying as best they would with what they were forced into. Then there was the romance brewing between the two which I enjoyed watching as well. It was just such a overall fun read and I recommend any readers to check out this book. 

Maggie Moves On

Maggie Moves On by Lucy Score

GenreRomance, Contemporary, Fiction, Adult, Chick Lit, Humor
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Pages: 416 
Published:  June 21st 2022 by Forever
Can these opposites turn up the heat… without burning down the house?

House-flipping sensation and YouTube star Maggie Nichols can’t wait to dig into her next challenge. Arriving in tiny Kinship, Idaho, with only a cot and a coffeemaker, Maggie is prepared to restore a crumbling Victorian mansion in four months or less. She has her to-do lists, her blueprints, and her team. What she doesn’t have is time for sexy, laid-back landscaper Silas Wright.

The man takes flirtation to a whole new level. And he does it shirtless…sometimes pants-less. He and his service school-dropout dog are impressively persistent. But she’s not interested in putting down roots. Not when fans tune in to watch her travel the country turning dilapidated houses into dream homes. A short-term fling on the other hand could fit nicely into her calendar. After all, Maggie remembers what fun is like. Vaguely.

As their summer gets downright steamy, Silas manages to demolish the emotional walls she’s spent years building, sending Maggie into a panic. He’s the wrench in her carefully constructed plans. With the end of the project looming, she has a decision to make. But how can she stay when her entire career is built on moving on? 

Maggie is a house flipper that has her own youtube channel and onto her next challenge. Silas is helping her out to fix the house. And man Silas was a shameless first and I absolutely loved it. I loved how once he set his mind on something he went for it. I enjoyed his silly dog. I loved seeing how they faced different challenges with both the house but their growing relationship as well. I enjoyed seeing the many small town things happen and how Maggie took certain situations and was so helpful at times that she really didn't have to deal with. There was so much going on that it'll keep any reader hooked and overall I really enjoyed this book. 
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