Tuesday, August 10, 2021

The Bitter Taste of MurderThe Bitter Taste of Murder by Camilla Trinchieri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Bitter Taste of Murder is the 2nd book in the Tuscan Mystery series. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Nico is still living in the Chianti area of Tuscany. He spends his days working in his garden with his dog "OneWag" or as his Italian friends like to call him, "Rocco". I will leave it to the reader to find out why poor OneWag has multiple names. The great thing is he seems to answer to both names. OneWag is a character in this series in his own right. One of my favorite parts of this series is the way the stories are told. Yes, Nico is the protagonist, but, the reader also gets to see the thoughts of the key players in each book, including OneWag. I love that! We see just how intelligent he is and I would add that from his thoughts he almost seems like a person in a dog's body. I will stop there as each reader should spend time reading about OneWag to see why I describe him this way. In The Bitter Taste of Murder, a well-known wine critic, who is visiting the area, and pretty much making enemies as he walks down the street, is murdered.

Michele Mantelli is pretty much a messy individual. He is in the middle of a divorce and visiting Gravigna where he happens to own a home. He is traveling with his new girlfriend and pretty much using his articles and blog to try and bully the restaurants in Gravigna into carrying the wine he is pushing. He has a past with Gravigna and more than one resident has good reason to see Mantelli dead. Unfortunately, Aldo, Nico's landlord is top of the list. Nico, Daniele, and Salvatore team up again to investigate the murder, but, this time, a Captain who outranks Salvatore is being sent in to investigate and Salvatore and Daniele are supposed to toe the line. The Bitter Taste of Murder further demonstrates how great Camilla Trinchieri is with creating her characters, central of which, is the Chianti region of Tuscany. If you love Italy, look forward to visiting one day, or just love to armchair travel, this series should be on your list. The reader gets a great glimpse into the language, relationships, food, wine, and mannerisms of the people. I have been studying (okay, not studying enough) but, working with a tutor to learn Italian, and we always spend time on culture, mannerisms, food, etc., and not just the language. I spend a fair amount of time looking up words and pictures of the different villages mentioned in the books. If you love a good mystery, great, colorful characters, learning about regional food and drink, then The Bitter Taste of Murder is a must. I am really looking forward to more in this series.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Marquess Method (The Beautiful Barringtons, #3)The Marquess Method by Kathleen Ayers


The Marquess Method is the third installment in the Beautiful Barringtons series. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The Barringtons are a quirky lot, a sister that is a clothing designer in secret, another that is an artist, and one that is bold and more outgoing than the other 2 sisters. This does not even take into account the half-brother that owns a gambling hall. Each of the siblings has their own story that describes how they fall in love with the most unexpected person in society. The Marquess Method is Theo's story and based upon her obvious crush on a specific man who appears to have some interest in Theo as well, but, Theo feels unable to compete with the many ladies of the "ton" that also have their eye on Lord Blythe. When Theo creates a sexy art miniature meant as a gift for Lord Blythe but, it is intercepted by Lord Haven, a battle of wills is started. Theo is dead set upon Lord Haven staying away from her and Lord Haven is dead set upon having help for his estate and sister and has realized that he also wants Theo.

The Marquess Method is a great addition to The Beautiful Barringtons series. There are so many fun spots in the book and it is great to see Theo grow and step out of her older sister's shadow, though she has always stood out. She set her mind on Lord Blythe and even spent a hilarious time and a ball trying to get his attention while not wearing her glasses. What is great is how this part of the story is written. Without giving away too much, it is great how this ball is the center of events for two of the sisters and the author does a great job of not leaving the reader hanging at the end of the second book and leaving them to wait for a conclusion in book three. There was a good transition that shows the author is pretty gifted at writing transitions and points-of-view. There are two more siblings left so I am looking forward to the next story about The Beautiful Barringtons.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

These Tangled VinesThese Tangled Vines by Julianne MacLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a phenomenal story! I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I did something slightly different since I do not currently belong to any book clubs. My cousin purchased a copy of the book and we did a mini book club together. When I remembered that this book takes place in Tuscany, I had to drop what I was reading and join my cousin in reading this since I had a copy. I adore Italy. I have not visited Montepulciano, but, I hear that it is amazing. The pictures of it are amazing as are the surrounding areas in Tuscany that I have visited. I could not pass up this armchair trip to Tuscany, especially during a time when Italy was still closed to non-Italians who did not have approved business reasons for visiting.

Fiona has a full life in the U.S. where she lives and cares for her father who is quadriplegic after a terrible accident prior to Fiona's birth. They are quite close and have assistance from some warm and friendly care workers that also are pretty devoted to her father. A sudden call from Italy unpacks Fiona's parents' past and sends Fiona to Italy searching for answers. What she finds is a biological father that she had never heard of, a mother who lived in shame after an affair, and siblings that may not want to know her. These Tangled Vines are told mostly through two perspectives, Fiona's and her mother, Anna's, past perspective. The landscape of Tuscany plays a very large part in the story, because, a very lucrative winery that was built by Fiona's biological father, Marco, is front-and-center in the will.

These Tangled Vines display the lengths people will go through to prevent loss and sometimes punish those that we love. I have to admit this book is fraught with emotional baggage. But, the story does a beautiful job of portraying relationships, especially when they are suffering from betrayal and deception. Wait, that happens in every family. Julianne MacLean demonstrated that she understands family dynamics, even broken families. Fiona was part of two broken families without even knowing it. She was a strong character, well-written and I loved the way she handled the situation in Tuscany that she walked into. She watched, learned, and was not quick to judge which was a great benefit to her and the entire situation. When family members die you would think we would all be at our best, but, it seems to bring out the worst in us, pain, finances, and all the holes in the familial relationships tend to be magnified at this time and These Tangled Vines did a wonderful job of capturing that. I look forward to reading more by Julianne MacLean.

Friday, May 28, 2021

TakeoverTakeover by Evelyn Sola
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Takeover really was a surprise read for me. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I have to be honest and admit that this book had a couple of firsts for me. I am not going say specifically what they are since they are not on the summarization of the book. Also, because how the author handles these topics speaks to her writing skills. The reader will know what I am referring to when they dig into Takeover. Tara and Ethan have an immediate repulsion to each other the minute they meet. Tara dislikes Ethan because he interrupted her career plans when her father sold his company to Ethan. Ethan dislikes Tara because he thinks she is a rich, spoiled brat. What ensues are some seriously funny moments where it is almost like they are crashing into each other rather than running into each other up to the point where they realize there might be more attraction than dislike between them.

Ethan is a single father, and his life situation definitely does not fit into Tara's life plans, as well as her dating rules. But Ethan pretty much is a whatever I want I find a way to get kind of person and eventually he realizes he wants more than just the toy company he is purchasing from Tara's father, but he has his work cut out for him to convince her to look past her rules for dating.

Tara has a plan. She is not single when the book starts out and she is dating someone that fits in her plans for a specific type of couple. I am amazed at how we have a specific type that we prefer to date which often gets thrown out of the window after dating several individuals of that "type" and finding that maybe we missed the mark with our list. I did it as a teenager and I believe most of us do make that list when we start dating. It would be interesting to see how many of us still hold to the original list.

One of the best things about Takeover is Tara's family. They are a close-knit unit and when you hear someone say they 'have your back', this family really means it. At times it is hilarious, but it is enviable and when things get tough for Tara, she really does not have to question who to turn to because she has great family support. Her stepmother is this amazing combination of mother and friend is colorful and what every stepchild wishes they had in a stepmom. Tara's relationship with her siblings that are twins is also fun to read about. They pretty much seem like triplets and anyone that crosses one of them should watch out for being jumped by three. There are some great conversations between the three of them that I really enjoyed reading. Actually, it is worth mentioning that the witty repartee in Takeover is something that takes this book to the next level.

I am imagining that the next book, hopefully, will be about one of the siblings and I really look forward to that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

He Started ItHe Started It by Samantha Downing
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I literally do not know how to rate this book. Does hating everyone in the book mean I hate the book? Doesn't there have to be at least one character that the reader can cheer for and hope they come out on top? Doesn't there have to be a hero or heroine? I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. What I can unequivocally say is that this author knows how to write characters and write a story that keeps the reader engaged. I can honestly say that I found not one of the characters redeeming. Beth had some positive qualities, i.e., her love for her sister and the desire to find her and support her. Outside of that, the age of the family members did not matter, and I am willing to bet that if there were any children in that family they would be just as despicable as the adults.

He started it depicts a repeat road trip that three siblings are taking to mirror a road trip they took with their grandfather when they were younger. So, the story switches between telling the story of the trip that occurred when Beth, Portia, and Eddie Morgan were young and now when they are trying to step through the same trip as a condition of their grandfather's will in order to secure their inheritance. What is amazing is that I can truthfully admit that Samantha Downing is a great writer. If her intention was to pit the reader against the characters and see who comes out on top, she really excelled at it. These characters all managed to make me wish I could physically hit every one of them. If I had been reading from a physical book, it would have hit a wall more than once. I love my iPad so I would not throw it but, there are times I screamed out loud and yelled at all of them. What is even more interesting is that it had me considering nature versus nurture again. Every last one of these people are psychopaths. I literally mean that. Where does a reader go when they are stuck in this story that feels like a car crash that they cannot look away from? Forward! We dig in and work our way through the story just to see what happens. We have no choice. Thanks a lot, author! Am I being sarcastic? I just do not know. It is still raw as I just finished it last night. I had nights where I sat on the edge of my chair with my head in my hand saying out loud what is happening here. I literally said 'WTF - spelled out' out loud while on a conference call with family. Luckily, they love a good story. All I could say was 'I don't understand. What is happening here? Who in the heck are these people? They are awful'. I did my best not to give one spoiler as you have to see it for yourselves. I should also mention that one of my favorite things was the moment the reader gets to see how the book gets its title. This is a story meant to be individually experienced.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

I’ve known powerful, arrogant men my entire life. Men like Ethan always have to win, no matter the cost, or so I thought. A chance encounter with Ethan and his son has me questioning everything I thought I knew. Readers who enjoy diverse contemporary romances will devour Takeover by Evelyn Sola, an enemies to lovers, single dad, billionaire romance.

Read Now!

 TARA

I was supposed to be in charge. That was always my intention. 

Until that slick corporate raider, Ethan Bradford, clicked his fancy pen and poof! 

Just like that, I was under him, instead of on top.

Rich and powerful men–especially arrogant, handsome ones–are all the same.

I know exactly how to handle him, but when my father pulls rank and orders me to play nice, my plans of putting him in his place vanish.

I know his type. I’ve been around men like him my entire life, but one chance meeting with him and his son, makes me question everything I thought I knew. 

ETHAN

When it comes to business, I always come out on top. Not even being a single dad can slow me down. I never let a good investment get away, and that includes Taylor Toys. After all, business is business, right?

How was I supposed to know a friendly meeting would set me on fire? Tara Taylor is a spoiled princess, used to getting everything she wants. 

Sure, her good looks and smart mouth turn me on like nothing else. Despite her hostile stares, she triggered feelings I thought were long dead. 

She dares to judge me while she stands there in her designer shoes, looking more beautiful than any marketing exec I’ve ever met. Instead of being grateful that I saved her family’s legacy, she blames me for their failure.

What was meant to be a formality turns into a game of wills. 

I never lose. Except this time, I find myself wanting her more than I want to win. I find myself wanting her to take over. 

Add to Goodreads!

Excerpt

Copyright 2021 Evelyn Sola

I know her type. Spoiled little daddy’s girl, upset because her life isn’t going according to plan. No manners. Someone needs to teach her a lesson and knock the smug look off her face. Wipe that smirk off her full lips. Lift her right off her short legs and spank her little ass.

Even now I know she’s seething with rage in her chair. She’s so tense, her shoulders are practically to her ears. I’d like nothing more than to walk over there, take the seat next to her and watch her squirm in unease, but this seat gives me a much better view.

She’s across the room in her designer clothes looking daggers at me with those big brown eyes. A man older than her father enters the room, and she stops the dirty looks to smile at him. She pats the seat next to her, and he happily takes it. He whispers something in her ear, and she laughs, the sound melodious to my ears. This is the first time I’ve seen her unguarded and imagine this is what she’s like. I think she forgot she’s supposed to hate me.

I want to hear her laugh again. And I do. He says something else, and this time, she throws her head back, laughing loudly, uncaring that she has an audience of one. All too soon, she sobers up, and I watch in awe as the tension returns to her body. She’s so rigid she looks like she’s going to snap.

The room fills quickly, and her father stands up to speak. I tune him out as I wait for him to introduce me. My eyes find her again, and I almost smile when I see the daggers are back and directed at me.

I hold her gaze, and she doesn’t back down. The humor she had just seconds ago now a distant memory. Her full lips are no longer smiling but are in a firm line. There’s no happiness in her gaze as she looks at me. Her eyes are a storm cloud, and I can see the brown orbs all the way from here. Neither one of us is willing to look away first. In fact, she lays her hands on the table and arches her eyebrows as she waits. I make no moves, and as much as I want to study the rest of her body, I don’t dare look away from her eyes. I never lose, and I don’t intend on losing to her by looking away first.

Unfortunately, my phone buzzes. It’s my private phone, the one the nanny uses. Carla has been with us since Vince came home from the hospital. She doesn’t text unless it’s necessary, and that’s what causes me to break the stare and pull out my phone.

I respond to the text, slide the phone back in my pocket and look back at her. She’s still looking, but I can see by the slight upturn of her lips that she’s claiming victory.

About Evelyn Sola

A Boston native, wife, mother, and wine enthusiast. If she’s not writing, thinking about writing, you will find Evelyn with a book in her hands. While a new publisher, she’s been writing for years, and she will continue to write for many years to come.  

Evelyn is obsessed with assertive and confident men who will stop at nothing to get their woman. Her stories are filled with love, passion and humor.

She currently lives in Chicago, IL with her husband and two daughters.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Reader Group | Goodreads | BookBub | Newsletter | Amazon 

This promotional event is brought to you by Indie Pen PR

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

In a blink of an eye, I turned her whole world upside down. I messed up and will do anything to make things right. Is there any chance of a happily ever after for a football star and librarian? Fans of the Boston Terriers Series by Jacob Chance will devour Blitz by A.M. Williams, a light and humorous, enemies to lovers romance.

Blurb

One sexy football player. One sassy small town librarian.

Is there any hope for happily ever after?

Charlie

HEA? No way.

Jasper Sutton is the reason I watched my dream go up in smoke.

I don’t care that he’s ridiculously hot and the night we met was one of the best of my life. The fact that he’s also funny and easy to talk to means next to nothing. 

He tore all my hopes to shreds when he bought the old library to turn it into a gym.

I can’t forgive him. 

Jasper

Charlotte “Charlie” Drake is something else. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.

She might be gorgeous and sexy, but she’s also headstrong and stubborn.

I get it--I messed up. I didn’t have all the facts and took things too far.

But I’m crazy about her. She’s the only woman who looked past my name and reputation to see the real me. I want to prove to her that I’m serious, I’m sorry, and we could be good together.

What does it take to get over the ultimate fumble and still win the game?

Add to Goodreads Here! 

Buy Now or Read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Excerpt 

Copyright 2021 @ A.M. Williams

“So,” I said after a few minutes of silence where we each sipped our coffee and ate what was in front of us, “are you vacationing near here?”

Jasper tilted his head, and a smile curled the edges of his mouth. “You could say that. I’m staying with my dad.”

I blinked at him. “And your dad is renting a house near here?”

He laughed. Laughed! “Uh, no. He owns it.”

I blinked at him again. “Oh. Did he move here recently?”

Jasper tilted his head and I caught what looked like surprise widening his eyes slightly. “Do you know who I am?”

I considered his question for a few moments, knowing that if he was asking me that then he was probably someone that was well known around here.

But I was drawing a blank.

Besides my friendship with Ruby and Vicky, I didn’t get out in town too much. I knew people, of course, because of going to events, working in the library, and being drug out to different festivals.

But I wouldn’t consider anyone that I met in that way to be a friend.

“You’re Jasper?” I finally said, not sure what else I should say. My tone was definitely questioning.

He gave one sharp, quick laugh before shaking his head. “I’m Jasper Sutton.”

I stared at him after his declaration. “I’m Charlie Drake.”

If he was going to introduce himself like that, then I could too.

His eyes narrowed. “No, I’m Jasper Sutton.”

I wasn’t sure why he was putting emphasis on his name, but I was also realizing that his name did sound familiar. I just wasn’t sure why.

“Okay…” I said slowly. “Nice to meet you.”

Silence stretched between us before he asked, “You know, the name on the sign coming into town?”

I studied him as I tried to recall the sign. I passed it every day, but I was to the point of not even noticing it anymore.

But I remembered what he was referring to. The Welcome to Spring Hills sign also had a part that said Home of Jasper Sutton on it.

My brow furrowed. “Were you named after someone famous?”

He said nothing for a few moments before he started laughing. Hard. 

I shifted in my seat as he laughed, watching as he rubbed a hand over his face and hunched over the table. I wasn’t too sure why he was laughing; I just knew it was at me.

I glanced around the cafe and saw that people were staring at him laughing and grew even more uncomfortable.

Jasper slowly stopped laughing and shook his head, wheezing. “Are you for real?”

“About what?” I asked, though I wasn’t too sure I wanted to know what he was asking. At this point, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be on this date or whatever it was for too much longer.

“You really don’t know who I am?”

I shook my head.

He blinked at me before saying, “I’m Jasper Sutton. The name on the sign is mine. It was put there when I got drafted.”

The drafted statement made me pause, but I couldn’t dwell on it too long because he kept talking.

“You’ve been to the Tasty Freeze? Ever seen the Jasper on the menu? It’s the milkshake they named after me because it’s my favorite. What about the Burger Barn? The Jasper there is my favorite meal.”

I stared at him. I probably shouldn’t have said what I said next, but my mind was short circuiting because all I could think of was the fact that he said he’d been drafted. Drafted for what?

“I thought Jasper Sutton was some old guy that had died in a war sometime.” 

Buy Now or Read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited! 

About A.M. Williams 

A.M. Williams is just a simple girl from the south that found herself living abroad. When she’s not annoying her cat or reading, she’s spending time with her husband and traveling as much as possible. She has a serious case of wanderlust and wants to go as many places as possible while she can. She loves Cheerwine, sweet tea, and North Carolina (eastern style) BBQ as well as those crystal clear waters on the North Carolina coast.

Follow: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Reader Group | Goodreads | BookBub | Website | Amazon 

The Bitter Taste of Murder by Camilla Trinchieri My rating: 5 of 5 stars The Bitter Taste of Murder is the 2nd book in the Tuscan Mystery...