Blog Tour Review: Keeping Claudia by Suzanne McKenna Link

Keeping Claudia
Suzanne McKenna Link
(Toby & Claudia #2)
Publication date: June 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

How do you love someone whose past goes against everything you’ve ever known or trust in a future you’ve yet to believe in?

Back home in a town she once fled, headstrong Claudia Chiametti returns to the arms of the only guy ever to awaken her heart. Everything about Toby contradicts her family’s traditions and values, but she’s ready to take a chance on love.

Toby Faye is a new man, and the girl he’s long dreamed of is finally within his reach. With Claudia’s help, he’s put the past behind him. But one last secret hides in the dark corner of his past. The one that could undermine it all.

Can Claudia love him unconditionally … or will the truth cost Toby what he wants most?

Keeping Claudia is the emotional finale to the love story that began in Saving Toby, an unforgettable journey of a couple who discover the only way to love someone is with an open heart.

Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is hard.

Full length, Contemporary Love Story.
Recommended Reading Age 18+
Though part of a series, may be read as standalone.

Goodreads / Amazon

My Review:

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: I received an ARC from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review.

Back in 2013, I read the first book in the Toby & Claudia series, Saving Toby. I absolutely loved it. I felt such a connection to the characters and their story. Over the past four years, I’ve wondered what the next part of their story would be. I was patiently waiting for the second book to be released. When I saw there was going to be a review tour for Saving Claudia, it was a no brainer to sign up for it. I couldn’t wait to get back to Toby and Claudia.

When I started Saving Claudia, I was a little surprised. I wondered what I was forgetting from the last book. Things were so tense between Toby and Claudia. Most of that was because of Claudia. I understood why she was guarding her heart, but the thoughts running through her head and the way she treated Toby frustrated me. I didn’t like her in this book. That made me feel conflicted. I remember loving the connection between Toby and Claudia. It was missing from the first half of this book, and it bothered me. I wanted some of the same magic.

Toby was the person I remembered him to be. I still loved his character. He wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t expect him to be. He felt like a real human with flaws. Honestly, Toby had come a long way from the first book, and I was mad that Claudia chose to focus on the negative rather than the positive. He deserved better.

To be completely honest, I didn’t start enjoying Saving Claudia until about 50% in. That was the point that Saving Claudia started to feel more like Saving Toby. I’m so happy because that second half was perfect. The characters grew so much, and I began to believe in their relationship again. I loved how everything ended up for Toby and Claudia.

I may not have loved every moment of Saving Claudia, but I’m glad I read it. It gave me the conclusion I needed after finishing Saving Toby. I’m happy Toby and Claudia got the ending they deserved.

Author Bio:

Suzanne McKenna Link works for a family of newspapers that cover events in and around the South Shore of Long Island, New York. She lives in the town of Sayville with her husband and two children.

SAVING TOBY is her debut novel. The literary love story follows the moving journey of a damaged young man and his love for a girl who might just save him. An avid interest in psychology has Suzanne digging deep into the reasons for her characters’ behaviors. The native Long Islander is fascinated by the how and why of people’s actions. As a result, her characters come to life on the pages.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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First Chapter Reveal: Hooking Up by Helena Hunting

Good morning! This morning, we are sharing with you the first chapter of Helena Hunting’s upcoming novel, Hooking Up. Enjoy!

Hooking Up
Author: Helena Hunting
Publication Date: November 7, 2017
Publisher: Swerve

Synopsis

Amalie Whitfield is the picture of a blushing bride during her wedding reception–but for all the wrong reasons. Instead of proclaiming his undying love, her husband can be heard, by Amalie and their guests, getting off with someone else. She has every reason to freak out, and in a moment of insanity, she throws herself at the first hot-blooded male she sees. But he’s not interested in becoming her revenge screw.

Mortified and desperate to escape the post-wedding drama, Amalie decides to go on her honeymoon alone, only to find the man who rejected her also heading to the same tiny island for work. But this time he isn’t holding back. She should know better than to sleep with someone she knows, but she can’t seem to resist him.

They might agree that what happens on the island should stay on the island, but neither one can deny that their attraction is more than just physical.

Filled with hilariously scandalous situations and enough sexual chemistry to power an airplane from New York City to the South Pacific, Hooking Up is the next standalone, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Helena Hunting, the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series and Shacking Up.

Chapter One
Wedding Unbliss

Amie

This is the happiest day of my life. I allow that thought to roll around in my head, trying to figure out why it doesn’t seem to resonate the way it should. This should be the happiest day of my life. So I’m not exactly certain why the uneasy feeling I associate with cold feet is getting worse rather than dissipating. I’ve already done the hard part; walked down the aisle and said “I do.”

My husband excused himself to go to the bathroom several minutes ago and, based on Armstrong’s itinerary for the day, speeches are supposed to begin promptly at eight-thirty. According to my phone, that’s less than two minutes from now, and he’s not here. The emcee for the evening is awaiting Armstrong’s return before he begins. And then the real party can start. The one where we get to celebrate our commitment to each other as partners for life. As in the rest of my breathing days. Dear God, why does that make my stomach twist?

I sip my white wine. Armstrong pointed out that red is not a good idea with my dress, even though it’s my preference. Besides, I don’t want it to stain my teeth. That would make for bad pictures.

I glance around the hall and see my parents, who are probably celebrating the fact that I didn’t walk down the aisle with a convicted felon. And frankly, so am I. My dating history pre-Armstrong wasn’t fabulous.

The sheer number of people in attendance spikes my anxiety. Speaking in front of all of these people makes me want to drink more, which is a bad idea. Tipsy speeches could lead to saying the wrong thing. I check my phone under the table again. It’s after eight-thirty. The longer Armstrong takes to return, the further behind we’ll get. The music playlist, devised by Armstrong with painstaking efficiency, leaves no room for tardiness. If we don’t start on time I’ll have to take out a song, or possibly two, to compensate for his delay and he’s selected the order in such a way as to make that difficult and that will annoy him. I just want today to be perfect. I want it to be reflective of my decision to marry Armstrong. That I, Amalie Whitfield, can make good choices and am not a disgrace to my family.

“Where the hell is he?” I scan the room and take another small sip of my wine. I should switch to water soon so I don’t end up drunk, especially later, when all of this is over and we can celebrate our lifelong commitment to each other without clothes on. I’m hopeful it will last more than five minutes.

Ruby, my maid of honor and best friend for the past decade, puts a hand on my shoulder. “Would you like Bancroft to find Armstrong?”

Bancroft, or Bane for short, is Ruby’s boyfriend who she’s been living with for several months. Recently I find myself getting a little jealous of how affectionate they still are with each other, even after all this time. Cohabitation hasn’t slowed them down on the sex or their PDA. I have hope that Armstrong and I will be more like Bane and Ruby now that we’ll be sharing the same bed every night.

I’m about to tell Ruby to give him another minute when a low buzz suddenly fills the hall. It sounds like a school PA system. I start to panic—they can’t start the speeches without Armstrong at my side. What’s the point of speeches if the groom isn’t present?

I’m halfway out of my seat, ready to tell the deejay, or whoever is behind the mic, he needs to wait, when a very loud moan echoes through the room. The acoustics are phenomenal in here, it’s why we chose this venue.

I glance at Ruby to make sure I’m not hearing things. Her eyes are wide. The kind of wide associated with shock. The same shock I’m feeling.

Another moan reverberates through the sound system, followed by the words, “Oh, fuuuck.”

A collective gasp ripples through the now-silent crowd. While the words themselves are scandalous among these guests, it’s the voice groaning them that makes me sit up straighter, and simultaneously consider hiding under the table.

“Fuck yeah. Ah, suck it. That’s it. Deep throat it like a good little slut. Fuuuuuccckkkkk.”

My mouth drops and I look to Ruby to ensure I have not completely lost my mind. “Is that—” I don’t finish the sentence. I already know the answer to the question, so it’s pointless to ask. Besides, I’m cut off by yet another loud groan. I clap a hand over my mouth because I’m not sure I’m able to close it, my disbelief is as vast as the ocean.

Ruby’s expression mirrors mine, except hers is incredibly animated since she’s an actress. “Oh my God. Is that Armstrong?” Her words are no more than a whisper, but they sound very much like a scream. Oh no, wait, that’s just Armstrong on the verge of an orgasm. But these sounds are nothing like the ones he makes when he’s in the throes of passion with me.

I clutch Ruby’s hand. The next sound that comes from him is a hybrid between a hyena laugh and a wolf baying at the moon. And every guest at our wedding is hearing the same thing I am. Our wedding. Someone other than me is blowing my husband at my own wedding. My mortification knows no end.

I grab the closest bottle of wine and dump the contents into my glass. Some of it sloshes over the edge and onto the crisp white tablecloth. It doesn’t matter. There’s plenty more where it came from. I chug the glass, then grab Ruby’s.

People lean in and whisper to each other, eyes lift to the speakers. A few people, the ones who are probably just here for the social-ladder-climbing potential, question who it is.

“Is the deejay watching porn?” That comment comes from a table full of mostly drunk singles in their early twenties.

Several eyes shift my way as I carelessly down Ruby’s wine and someone asks where the groom has disappeared to.

The grunts and groans grow terrifyingly louder. This is nothing like what I’m used to in bed with Armstrong. The dirty words aren’t something he ever uses with me, mostly it’s just noises and sometimes a “Right there” or “I’m close,” but that’s about it. He’s never talked to me like he is to the woman currently providing oral pleasure. And I’m very adept at oral. Although with Armstrong it’s very polite, neat oral, with no sounds other than the occasional hum. Slurping is uncivilized and a definite no-no.

I reach past Ruby for the bottle of red since I don’t really give a flying fuck about purple teeth right now. As I sink low in my seat I pour another glass of wine, surveying the people in the ballroom from behind the cover of the centerpiece. The centerpieces are huge and excessive and I don’t like them at all, but at least provides a protective barrier between the guests and my disgust, which I’m certain they must share. He sounds like a wild animal rutting. It is entirely unsexy. I have no idea who he’s getting intimate with, but I’m suddenly very glad it’s not me.

And doesn’t that tell me more about our relationship than it should.

It’s only been about thirty seconds—the most humiliating thirty seconds of my life—before Armstrong comes. How do I know this? Because he says, very clearly, “Keep sucking, baby, I’m coming.”

And “baby,” whoever she is, makes these horrific gurgling noises. It sounds like some form of alien communication. It’s way over the top, and apparently Armstrong is loving it, based on the string of vile profanity that spews from his asshole mouth.

“Holy crap. Is this for real? That was really fast,” Ruby mutters.

I guzzle my glass of wine. Then decide the glass is unnecessary and take a long swig from the bottle before Ruby snatches it away. Wine dribbles down my chin and onto my chest, staining the white satin purple. My dress is ruined. I should be freaking out. But I really don’t care.

“Come on,” Ruby tugs on my hand. “We need to get you out of here while people are still distracted.”

My older brother Pierce and the emcee are standing in the middle of the hall, gesturing wildly to the speakers above us. My other brother, Lawson, is on his way toward the podium in an attempt to do something. I don’t think there’s anything he can do to stop this train wreck from there.

Ruby tugs again, but I’m frozen, still trying to figure out what exactly just happened. Well, I know what’s happened. I just can’t believe it.

The sound of a zipper and the rustle of clothes follows. “Thanks for that, now I’ll be able to last later tonight,” Armstrong says.

“What about me?” A female asks. Her voice is nasally and whiny.

“What about you?”

“Well I helped you, aren’t you going to help me?”

“Didn’t you come with a date?”

“Well, yes, but—” God her voice is familiar. I just can’t figure out where I know it from.

“My cousin, right? He loves my sloppy seconds. Speeches are starting. I gotta get back to my ball and chain.”

Gasps of horror ripple through the room, followed by a few giggles. These people really are assholes.

I think I’m going to throw up. I can’t believe he’s going to come out here and pretend nothing just happened. Like some other woman didn’t just have her lips around his cock. His distinctly average cock. Maybe even slightly below average in length, if I’m being one hundred percent honest.

A door opens and closes.

Lawson turns on the mic behind the podium and taps it, sending screeching feedback through the room, making people cringe. Too bad no one did that a minute ago.

Murmuring grows louder and glances flicker to the head table and then away as Brittany Thorton, a seriously skanky debutante, comes strutting through the doors, using a compact to check her lipstick. She’s made it her mission to attempt to get into the pants of half the eligible men in this room. She’s followed, not five seconds later, by a very smug-looking Armstrong.

“I’m going to kill him.” I grab the closest steak knife, but it appears my hasty, and possibly felonious, plan is unnecessary. My brothers leave their respective posts and stalk toward him. Across the room my mother is gripping my father’s arm, whispering furiously in his ear. Great. Just what I need, additional family drama.

“Oh shit,” Ruby gasps.

I follow her gaze to find Bane converging on Armstrong with my brothers. Bancroft is a tank and he used to play professional rugby. I’ve seen him with his shirt off, he’s built like a superhero and he’ll probably crush Armstrong, or at least break something. Possibly multiple somethings.

For a second I consider that Ruby should probably stop Bane from destroying Armstrong’s pretty, regal face, but then I realize I don’t actually care. In fact, the possibility that he might break Armstrong’s perfectly straight nose fills me with glee. Armstrong’s wellbeing is no longer my concern, it’s more about Bane ending up in prison for murder.

“I hope Armstrong has a good plastic surgeon, he’s going to need it once Bane is done with him.” Ruby echoes my internal hopes and her chair tips as she jumps up. “Come on, let’s get you out of here.” She nods to the right.

I notice my mother and father engaged in a heated discussion with Armstrong’s parents. I really don’t need this right now. Not the drama. Not the humiliation. All I wanted was a nice wedding. Instead I end up with a husband who gets a blow job during our reception—and it’s broadcast to everyone attending.

Ruby urges me into action. “Don’t worry about them. Get your stuff and we’ll get you the hell out of here. I’ll have the limo meet you by the entrance near your bridal suite as soon as I can.”

I nod and stumble unsteadily to my feet, thanks to having consumed the better part of a bottle of wine in the last minute and a half. It’s amazing how ninety seconds can change a person’s entire life.

All hell breaks loose as more men jump in to either pummel or extract Armstrong from the pummeling. I grab my clutch and phone from the table, gather up my stupid, too puffy gown, and head for the bridal suite, where I had prepared for what was supposed to be the most amazing day of my life. And now it’s likely the worst, at least I hope the mortification level I’m experiencing can’t exceed this. I feel like the foulest version of Cinderella ever.

I rush down the empty hall and grab the doorknob as I fumble around in my clutch for the key. I’m surprised when it turns. I thought I’d locked it before we left for the ceremony. Regardless, I need to get away from everyone before I either lose it or commit a felony. Maybe both. Murder in the first. Armstrong will be my victim. And maybe that horrible skank, Brittany.

I thrust the door open and slam it closed behind me, locking it from the inside. Tears threaten to spill over and ruin my makeup. Not that it matters since there’s no way I’m going out there again. I can’t believe my forever lasted less than twelve hours. I can’t believe the man I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life loving couldn’t be faithful to me for even one day. What the hell is wrong with me? With him? I’m as devastated as I am angry and embarrassed. Once I annul this farce of a marriage I’ll become a spinster. I should probably go ahead and adopt six or seven cats tonight.

“I need to get out of this dress,” I say to myself. I reach behind me and pull the bow at the base of my spine. Instead of unfurling, it knots and I only succeed in pulling it tighter. Of course my dress has to be difficult. I growl my annoyance and rush over to my dressing table where my makeup and perfume are scattered from earlier today. Half a mimosa sits unconsumed beside the vase of red roses Armstrong had delivered.

The card read: I can’t wait to spend forever loving you.

What a load of bullshit. I drain the contents of the champagne flute, not caring that the drink is warm and flat. Then I throw the glass, because it feels good and the sound of shattering crystal is satisfying. Next I heave the vase of roses, which explodes impressively against the wall, splattering water and shards of glass across the floor.

I yank out a couple of the drawers and find a pair of scissors. They actually look more like gardening shears and seem rather out of place, but I don’t question it. Instead I reach behind me with my back to the mirror and awkwardly try to cut myself free. It’s not easy with the way I have to crane my neck.

“Goddammit! I need to get out of this stupid dress!” I yell at my reflection. I think I might actually be losing it just a touch now. I stop messing around with the laces in the back and shove the scissors down the front. I nearly nick myself with the blade—they’re a lot sharper than I realized—but that doesn’t slow me down. I start hacking my way through the bodice; layers of satin, lace, and intricate beading sliced apart with every vicious snip.

I just want out of this nightmare.

Connect with Helena Hunting:

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https://twitter.com/helenahunting
https://www.instagram.com/helenahunting/
https://www.amazon.com/Helena-Hunting/e/B00HHM5MLQ

WWW Wednesday: October 4, 2017

Welcome to WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. The purpose is to share what I’ve reading lately. The three W’s stand for:

What did you recently finish reading?
What are you currently reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Recently Read

This week I read some more on ARCs I have to review this month. I most recently read Tempt the Playboy (Tempt, #2)A Taste of Honey (Lively St. Lemeston, #3.5), and Bountiful (True North, #4).


Currently ReadIng

I’m currently reading Crossing the Line (Cross Creek, #2).


Reading Next

My next read is probably going to be Without Merit. I am saving it for a trip I’m taking this weekend. Which reminds me that I should let you know I will not have a WWW Wednesday post for next week due to my trip, and limited to response to comments.


What are you reading? Make sure to leave me your link below so I can check out your post. 🙂

Blog Tour Excerpt: Scandalous by L.J. Shen

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Scandalous, the highly anticipated next standalone in the Sinners of Saint Series by LJ Shen is available NOW!

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Scandalous by LJ Shen

Publishing Date: September 29th, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

They call him The Mute for a reason.

Hard, cold and calculated, he rarely speaks.

When he does, it’s with disdain.

When he does, his words aren’t meant for me.

When he does, my stomach flips and my world tilts on its axis.

He is thirty-three.

I am eighteen.

He’s a single dad and my father’s business partner.

I’m just a kid to him and his enemy’s daughter.

He’s emotionally unavailable.

And I am…feeling. Feeling things I shouldn’t feel for him.

Trent Rexroth is going to break my heart. The writing isn’t just on the wall, it’s inked on my soul.

And yet, I can’t stay away.

A scandal is the last thing my family needs. But a scandal is what we’re going to give them.

And oh, what a beautiful chaos it will be.

Excerpt:

Trent’s gaze cut to mine and stopped when his grays met my blues. The fading noise of Vicious barking at people to move along, and my father finally letting go of my arm to move toward Jaime and Dean—probably trying to gain both allies and sympathy—died down.

“I don’t like you,” Rexroth whispered under his breath, his voice harsh.

“I never asked you to.” I shrugged.

“You won’t be working here.” His arm brushed my shoulder, but I didn’t think it was by accident. I let loose a sugary smile, scanning his face and torso for no other reason other than to taunt him. “Good, you’ll be doing me a favor. My father is the one forcing me to work here. He’s pissed I turned down five Ivy League colleges. Remind me, Mr. Rexroth—which top tier university did you attend for your degree?”

The low blow was supposed to retrieve some of my lost dignity, but bile burned my throat, shotgunned from my stomach. Trent Rexroth was known in Todos Santos as an exhilarating success story, rising from the gutters of San Diego. He went to a shitty state college that accepted even the illiterate, working as a janitor on campus after hours. Those were given facts he’d recited himself in an interview for Forbes.

Had I really just tried to make him feel less worthy because he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth? It made me sicker than wearing my mother’s designer garbs.

Trent smiled, leaning into my body, into my soul. His smirk was more frightening than any scowl, frown, or grimace I’d ever seen. It threatened to tear me apart and sew me back together however he pleased.

“Edie.” His lips were dangerously close to my ear. A delicious shiver moved down my spine. Something warm rolled inside of me, begging to unknot and flower into an orgasm. What was happening, and why the hell was it happening? “If you know what’s best for you, you will turn around and leave right now.”

I elevated my head to meet his gaze and showed him my version of a grin. I was born and raised in a world of intimidating rich men, and I’d be damned if I go down like my mother—addicted to xanax, Gucci, and a man who paraded her on his arm for a short, glorious decade before keeping her solely for public appearances.

“I think I’m going to go find my desk now. I’d wish you a good day, Mr. Rexroth, but I think that ship has sailed. You’re a miserable man. Oh, and one for the road.” I fished for a Nature Valley bar in my mother’s purse and plastered it to his hard, muscled chest. My heart slammed into my neck, fluttering like a caged bird.

I hurried after my father as he glided down the vast, golden-hued hallway, not daring to look back. Knowing I’d started a war and arrived unequipped. But I also knew something else that gave me a surfer’s rush—if I could slam the final nail in my employment coffin and make Rexroth vote against me, I’d be off the hook.

I had just the plan for it. All I had to do was act like a brat. Game on.

Scandalous-AN.jpg

Read Today!

(Free in Kindle Unlimited)

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2fN06df

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Add to GoodReads: https://goo.gl/rBwXhs

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Start the Series of Standalones Today!

(Free in Kindle Unlimited)

Vicious

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Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2hUo31f

About LJ Shen:

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

LJSHEN

Connect with LJ Shen:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorljshen/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lj_shen

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Stay up to date with LJ Shen by signing up for her mailing list:

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Book Boyfriends

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends (Which characters do you have crushes on?). This list isn’t really ten characters I have crushes on. It’s ten characters who were stand out boyfriends to their gals.

I know that I should tell you why each is one of my favorites, but I’m being lazy and skipping that. You’re just going to have to read the book to find out. 😉


1. Tyson Preeter
You and Everything After by Ginger Scott

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2. Grip
The Grip Series by Kennedy Ryan

3. Keller
Bright Side by Kim Holden

4. Mason Kade
Fallen Crest High Series by Tijan

5. Jonah
Full Tilt by Emma Scott

6. Theo
All In by Emma Scott

7. Tucker
The Goal by Elle Kennedy

8. Leo
Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen

9. Jamie and/or Wes
Him Series by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

10. Connor Cobalt
Addicted / Calloway Sisters Series

Review: Legs by Kelly Siskind

Title: Legs
Series: One Wild Wish #1
Author: Kelly Siskind
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Published: September 27, 2017
Running into your one-night stand is a special kind of awkward. Competing against him in a wine tasting contest is delicious torment…

On Rachel’s twenty-seventh birthday, she wishes to finally find a rewarding job. What she doesn’t wish is to drink a boatload of wine, sleep with a tattooed bad boy, and drunk email her boss in one glorious, career-ending move. But the fiasco pushes her to pursue a career inspired by her late father’s love of wine: sommelier. 

Unfortunately, she’s competing against her infuriating one-night stand, a man as intoxicating as a Pinot Noir.

Two years ago, Jimmy was set to inherit his family winery. Then it got ripped from his grasp. To close that dark chapter of his life, he plans to win a local sommelier contest and use the press to expose his family’s tainted wines. 

Jimmy loves studying the streaks of alcohol that cling to a wineglass, known as the wine’s “legs,” but other shapely legs are stealing his focus. Tantalizing legs. Legs that had wrapped around his waist for one wild night. Jimmy, sadly, has a weakness for legs. 

He also hates to lose.
LEGS is a full-length, standalone Smart, Sexy Romantic Comedy with a swoony Happily Ever After. No cheating or cliff-hangers here! Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren, Avery Flynn, Alice Clayton, Emma Chase, and Lauren Blakely.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Note: I received an ARC from Enticing Journey Book Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review.

I was so, so excited when I heard Kelly Siskind was coming out with a new book. I adored her Over the Top series, and couldn’t wait to get more of her writing. I knew Legs would be an exciting start to a new series. I was right.

After several failed attempts at finding her place in the workplace, Rachel feels out of sorts. She hates being a failure in her mother’s eyes. Jimmy thought he knew what he wanted out of life, but an ultimatum changed his life two years ago. Now, he’s biding his time figuring out who he is, what he wants and how to achieve it. A nameless one-night stand connects Rachel and Jimmy together. They have no plans to ever see each other again, but winding up in the same competition competing for the same job reminds of them of how good they could be together.

Legs was a humorous contemporary romance that went beyond simply falling in love. It was all about the characters finding themselves. Rachel really needed help in this area. She was so focused on what others wanted, she didn’t put enough thought into who she was and what she wanted. Jimmy helped bring out that side in her. Rachel also helped Jimmy. She inspired him to deal with his past and come to terms with his relationship with his family. I loved how Rachel and Jimmy were better people because of each other. I also loved how they supported each other in all obstacles.

Another thing I really liked about Legs were the side characters. I adored Rachel’s best friends. I didn’t get to see much of Jimmy’s, but I also liked what I saw of them. I am so excited that this is a series and that Kelly Siskind is going to tie Rachel and Jimmy’s friends together. I can’t wait for the next book!

I also can’t leave out how much I loved learning about wine from this book. I wasn’t sure how the title fit in when I originally started reading. I had no idea that wine had legs. Heck, I had no idea about any of the wine stuff I learned. (Probably because I’m not a big wine connoisseur.)

Overall, Legs was an incredibly fun read. The romance was sweet and the dialog was filled with witty banter. I laughed and swooned so much. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy romantic comedy.


Rachel settled onto the stool beside me, her spine ramrod straight. She tucked her elbows to her sides. Not exactly relaxed.

A drink could help. “What’s your poison?”

“Apparently dangerous men I don’t know, but I’ll have a glass of the Lynmar Pinot.”

I could do dangerous. “If I’m your poison after two minutes, imagine how you’ll feel in a few hours.” That earned me a long swallow from her. “She’ll have the Foursight,” I added to Cameron. It was sweet how confident she was ordering that wine, but her lips would taste so much better after a sip from my glass.

She shot me a look, her freckles sharp against her reddening cheeks. “Pretty sure I can order for myself, and I’d like the Lynmar.”

“You don’t want the Lynmar. 2011 was a brutal year. Trust me.” No need to bore her about the early rains that season and the lack of fruit.

“Actually I do want the Lynmar.”

Cameron moved to grab the bottle, but I held up my hand. He halted. 

To her, I said, “I’ve been sipping the Foursight since I got here. You telling me you don’t want a taste?”

Her attention dropped to my lips again, and she grazed her teeth over hers. Fire sparked in her brown eyes. “I may want a taste of that wine. Later. For now I want the Lynmar.”

“It’s inferior.”

“It’s splendid.”

“The season was crap.”

“The season was hard, not crap.”

“The Foursight is a sure thing,” I said. She must have seen the heat in my gaze.

“I like the underdog,” she countered, a sultry note to her voice. “Finding a diamond in the rough. The vines that survived 2011 were stronger, and a few vintages shone. Like the Lynmar. Hints of spice. Creamy mouthfeel.” A quiet hum passed her lips.

Okay. The girl knew her wine, and my attraction to her spiked. With the haunts I’d been frequenting, and my bartending gig at Rudy’s Tavern, I hadn’t been around a woman like her in ages. No visible ink, her outfit more conservative than racy. Her straight brown hair would look sexy as hell tangled in my fist. “You sure you don’t want to skip to the mouthfeel part?”

She smiled freely, the first hint of her letting loose. “I’m still not sure how bitter the aftertaste will be.”

My answering grin was just as carefree. “I know how to make it sweet, Sunshine.”

She barely reacted, but her nostrils flared. “Then get me a glass of the Lynmar.”

“You’ll regret it.”

“I’m already regretting walking in here.”

I chuckled, unsure the last time flirting had been this much fun. “How about a bet?”

“I don’t bet with strangers.”

“But you have drinks with them?”

She paused. “What sort of bet?”

Between her rejection at Vesper and her stiff posture now, sitting beside me was probably pushing her beyond her limits. Limits I wanted to test. The women I’d messed around with weren’t tough to reel in. We were always after the same thing: a fun night between the sheets. The girl at my side was tipsy, but not so drunk she didn’t know what she was after. Something told me if I could unlace her, it would be lightyears beyond fun.

“You do a blind tasting of the Foursight and the Lynmar,” I said. “If you can’t tell them apart, then I buy you a glass of my choosing, and I get to taste it on your lips. At my place.”

“That escalated fast.” So did her breathing.

“Did you want this to go slow?”

Instead of turning me down, she said, “If I win…if I guess each wine, what do I get?”

“You tell me.”

“A winery?”

I barked out a laugh, but there was nothing funny about her joke. Two years ago, I’d have been able to ante up. “Might be out of my budget. Anything else?”

She looked at me through lowered lashes. “My place.”

Now we were getting somewhere.
Kelly is the author of CHASING CRAZY, MY PERFECT MISTAKE, A FINE MESS, and HOOKED ON TROUBLE, the latter three being part of her Over the Top series. A small-town girl at heart, she moved from the city to open a cheese shop with her husband in northern Ontario. When she’s not neck deep in cheese or out hiking, you can find her, notepad in hand, scribbling down one of the many plot bunnies bouncing around in her head. She’s also an incurable romantic, devouring romance novels into the wee hours of the morning.

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Review: Sugar & Gold by Emma Scott

Sugar & Gold
Series: Dreamcatcher, #2
Author: Emma Scott
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Fantasy
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis:

Nikolai Alexei Young was born with a special gift…one he’d do anything to lose. The heart and soul of every person he comes into contact with is an open book to his heightened senses. Colorful emotions, whispers of thoughts, the sour tastes of old memories…He feels them all. The sci-fi books would call him an empath. For Nikolai, his ability has made him an exile. He roams the U.S. alone, avoiding the glut of life in big cities, and using his innate talents to win money in underground poker games. Just enough to keep going, one town to the next. He has no hope that his life can be anything else, until he meets her…

At nineteen, Fiona Starling was trapped in an ugly, desperate situation until she freed herself the only way she knew how. Now three years later, living outside Savannah, Georgia, she is rebuilding her life on her own terms; seizing every moment and saving every penny so that she might fulfill her dream of moving to the raw wilderness of Costa Rica. But behind her carefree smile beats the heart of a lonely young woman haunted by her past, until a chance encounter with a tattooed stranger changes everything…

Fiona takes Nikolai under her roof for three sultry nights, waiting out the rain of a summer storm. She grows more and more fascinated by this brooding stranger with whom she shares an intense physical connection—a connection so strong, she wonders if there is something between them beyond lust and passion. Nikolai is shocked to discover that Fiona calms the raging turmoil in his heart. She alone silences the din of other people’s lives, and envelops him in the sweet beauty of her inner self. Every moment he’s with her—every touch of her skin—brings him closer to the peace that’s been eluding him his entire life.

But Fiona harbors secrets that she is too terrified to reveal. After Nikolai confesses his unique ability, she is caught between wanting to believe him and fearing he’ll eventually unearth her own dark past. When the unthinkable happens, Fiona’s plans come crashing down, and Nikolai discovers his hated ability might be the only thing that can save the woman he loves.


Sugar & Gold was a brilliant story of two broken people finding love and comfort where they least expect it. Fiona, ready to flee to the wild of Costa Rica, had no plans for love. Love was what broke her in the first place. Nikolai has a gift for seeing and feeling emotions from the people he comes in contact with. It’s made him unwelcome by those he loves the most. He never thought a one night distraction could bring him the peace he craves.

I really loved this book. I’m a little surprised by that. You see, I’m not really one for paranormal stuff in books. I like my fiction to be realistic. But I really, really loved it in Sugar & Gold. Nik’s gift was so well woven into the story. It gave him a connection with Fiona that went above and beyond what would have been in my realistic fiction. I adored their relationship and couldn’t imagine it without Nik’s colors.

Not only did Sugar & Gold have the whole paranormal thing going for it, but it also had some great twists. I couldn’t have foreseen where this story was headed. I loved the turn it took and how everything worked out. I especially loved the epilogue.

If you want to feel all the feels, reach for an Emma Scott book. She won’t let you down. She always crafts a sweet story filled with raw emotions. I was completely captivated by Sugar & Gold. It was just so beautiful. I highly recommend it.