Saturday, 18 January 2020

Review of Tactical Heart by S.K. Rose

Tactical Heart by S.K. Rose
Published 22 August 2019

When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.

The Old King Is Dead

With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.
Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned …
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Amazon
*at the time of this posting, this book is available via Kindle Unlimited

Tactical Heart was a one-night wonder for me as it quickly drew me in with it's unique storyline. It features two die-hard gamers who are set up on a blind date by one gamer's sister and her boyfriend (the other gamer's roommate), add in a heaping helping of tropes that we can't help but love - insta-love,"I hate him, but I love him, but I...", and the like, and a smidgen of cosplay dorkdom (who doesn't want to dress up like an elf?), and you have Tactical Heart.
Scar was an enjoyable character to read, I've been gaming for decades now (I am a crone) and to see a female gamer as the protag in a romance was a major "hells yeah" moment. Not only does SK Rose give us a relatable hardcore gamer who lives and dies by the stats, but she also puts the misogyny female gamers face into the book in a believable manner. In today's gaming community as women make it more and more known that we, too, enjoy a game, we get a lot of blowback from misogynists and hardcore gamers who think women ruin the gaming industry. I've been there, faced that, so, when Scar goes off on Kane as she well should, I'm right there because dude deserves that mess. (nope, no spoilers)
I'm a newfound fan of SK Rose and I hope y'all join me in her fandom (also, her author fan group is hilarious and if you become a fan, I highly suggest you come join). I'm recommending you check out Tactical Heart if you're a gamer or just a non-gamer nerd (I don't discriminate) and enjoy reading a romance packed with gaming and goofball goodness and hearty competition. There is parental strife, fiscal issues, and a bit of recreational marijuana consumption, so if those are sensitive issues you'd like to avoid, this might not be a book for you.
Overall, I'm giving Tactical Heart all my 5 stars and a mellow 3 flames and fangirling over the nerdiness of this book. I hope y'all take a moment to check this book out because, I loved it and I hope you do too!


S.K. Rose lives in the hellish desert of Arizona with her newly appointed husband and two obnoxious cats. When she’s not writing, She enjoys reading, gaming, swearing like a drunk sailor, collecting swords, and obsessing over the magnificent sea creature: the octopus.


I'm currently looking for a new service dog (prospect), so I'm going to be putting together posts leading up to that and then, I'm going to make a series surrounding training and all once I've found my new canine partner. I see a lot of misinformation floating around out there now and when I was a kid, my mom and my doctors tried so hard to get me a service dog but nobody knew how to. So I want to fix that problem for others in the future. I know it's not a book thing, but it's a me thing.
For this review, I'm choosing New Horizons Service Dogs, a local training organisation that I'm familiar with that's trained a lot of amazing dogs Manatee and I've met in our adventures. They do a lot of good work and donations to New Horizons help alleviate costs for the program, including for disabled persons in great need of service dogs who are on a tight budget (the cost of a trained service dog is several thousand dollars). As always, if you're of a mind and a means to donate, this non-profit would greatly benefit from contributions.
Until next time, dear readers, have a happily ever after!

Monday, 13 January 2020

Review of The Blacksmith Queen by G.A.Aiken

The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken
The Scarred Earth Saga #1
Published 27 August 2019
by Kensington Publishing

When a prophesy brings war to the Land of the Black Hills, Keeley Smythe must join forces with a clan of mountain warriors who are really centaurs in a thrilling new fantasy romance series from New York Times bestselling author G.A. Aiken.

The Old King Is Dead

With the demise of the Old King, there’s a prophesy that a queen will ascend to the throne of the Black Hills. Bad news for the king’s sons, who are prepared to defend their birthright against all comers. But for blacksmith Keeley Smythe, war is great for business. Until it looks like the chosen queen will be Beatrix, her younger sister. Now it’s all Keeley can do to protect her family from the enraged royals.
Luckily, Keeley doesn’t have to fight alone. Because thundering to her aid comes a clan of kilt-wearing mountain warriors called the Amichai. Not the most socially adept group, but soldiers have never bothered Keeley, and rough, gruff Caid, actually seems to respect her. A good thing because the fierce warrior will be by her side for a much longer ride than any prophesy ever envisioned …




I chose to make The Blacksmith Queen my first review of the year because, why not start the year off with one of my all-time favourite authors? G.A. Aiken also writes as my personal deity, Shelly Laurenston. That's right, y'all, my precious. In keeping with her usual style of weaving romance in with comedy and bloodshed, The Blacksmith Queen is an excellent launch to Laurenston/Aiken's new series in her Dragonkin world.
The characters we're given in The Blacksmith Queen are, as usual, hilariously dramatic and nonchalantly violent. Keeley has a freaking hammer that she swings around like it's a feather pillow and takes a dude's head off with it. Cousin Keran's a retired member of a fighters' guild. Keeley's mum gets bored whilst preggers and builds things for the farm. I can't even begin to get started with Gemma, just y'all. Come on! And that's just the Smythe family. There's also Keeley and Gemma's father Angus and his brother, Archie, who need a family counsellor (there is no shame in that, that's healthy). And finally there are the Amichai, Caid, Laila, and Quinn all of the Scarred Earth Clan, who make me cackle.
Some of the things I loved most about The Blacksmith Queen were the demonic wolves, I love them and I want one. They're so loyal to Keeley, it's so beautiful! I loved how G.A. Aiken brought up a special deity connection again, because I loved that in the Dragonkin books. I like the absurdity of the Aiken & Laurenston books, they're great for reading after a bad week or when you're stressing out over something or hiding in your closet from your anxiety (hey, I don't judge you...). One thing I disliked about this book was the naming system. I just really freaking hate occupation = surname. My last name translates to the verb "kill". That means that way back in the past somebody decided that someone in my family was good at killing. And my family has had this name for centuries. A bunch of people, known for killing. Okay, I just really hate that naming system, it's not the book's fault. It's my murderous ancestor's fault. But honestly, I'm glad that our civilisation has grown past that.
But the story is not just laughs and giggles, there is heartbreak and hapless adventure and an obsession with working metal that normal folks just won't understand. You will encounter acts of vengeance and acts of betrayal in this story that you won't expect and some you will.
Now, as per usual, I have content warnings for you! If you feel that forewarned is forearmed, all you need to do is click the reveal button and you have the content and trigger warnings. As always, please practise care in your readings if any of these might be problematic for you, and if you have any questions about them, please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about them!


Overall, I'm giving all of my 5 stars and 2 flames for heat to The Blacksmith Queen. I always love reading G.A. Aiken and Shelly Laurenston, no matter which pen name I'm reading, and I can't wait to read her next book! Thank you to Kensington Publishing for the finished copy, I now I have two copies so I can read one and lend it if I wish and one pretty one for my shelves. Readers, if you're looking for an entertaining read that you can lose yourself in, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author G.A. Aiken lives on the West Coast and spends most of her time writing and making sure her rescued Pittie doesn’t love everyone into a coma. When she’s not writing about sexy dragons, she’s writing about sexy wolf, lion, tiger, and other fang-filled predators under the name Shelly Laurenston. Find out more about this New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors books at Shelly Laurenston Website.

Social Media include:: Aiken Facebook Page|Facebook Group|Laurenston Facebook Page

Other books by G.A. Aiken or Shelly Laurenston I've reviewed include::
Hot & Badgered
Howl for It
In a Badger Way


My plans to get ahead a month in my posts went awry, y'all. But I'm not sorry. I moved! No more dreadful apartment with horrible neighbours. We moved into a rental house with a nice fenced backyard for the dogs to run around in. The apartment was furnished, so we're starting out pretty empty, but I honestly don't care! And! At the end of the month (if all goes according to plan), there's going to be something wonderful happening!
Now, if you're like me, you're freaking out over the recent world news, right? Australia is a country I've loved since I was very young, so I'm dedicating this post to the people and wildlife affected by the Australian fires right now. Here are several charities that benefit animals and people that some Australian contacts sent me!


Monday, 16 December 2019

★ Holiday Break and Miscellaneous News ★

Hey readers! If you haven't noticed, I've taken a break from the blog. I'm going to be back up and running in January after all the holiday hubbub and the chaos has settled down. I've been scheduling things ahead of time, shocking, I know! So I have some content all set for you now but it's prescheduled for 2020. I'm just going to be taking breaks every December and June to try to stop the sporadic absences.
I took Manatee to get his picture taken at Petco's Santa Paws for Cause. He had a labradoodle barking at him off to the side the entire time. I'm probably going to go find a Christmas display for his holiday photo that isn't pet-friendly. Because such a yikes.

I've been absorbed into the Happy Planner cult and I've been overplanning 2020. And Happy Planner has thematic sticky notes. Y'all know how I feel about sticky notes... I have made several purchases that were not necessary.
We're applying for one of the houses we've toured, so hopefully we'll maybe be out of this apartment and into a nice house with a fenced-in yard so my chunky girl can run to her heart's content without having to worry about other residents' reactive dogs. And my grandmother can finally come back home where she belongs. Y'all pray for this to whatever deity or power y'all worship.
So, whatever holidays or festivities you celebrate, I hope they are beautiful and wonderous. May 2020 be bright and shining. And, during the upcoming winter festivities, please stay safe in all your journeys.
I'll see you in the new year!

Saturday, 7 December 2019

★Blog Tour★ Review of An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow
Wild River #1
Published 24 September 2019 by HQN Books

In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…
If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.
Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts…



An Alaskan Christmas is the first book in Jennifer Snow’s new series, Wild River, which takes place in Wild River, Alaska. When Dr Erika Sheraton, gets sentenced to a mandatory two-week vacation, she decides to head back to her hometown and her childhood best friend, Cassie Reynolds. When Erika arrives in Wild River, she and Cassie quickly realise how much they’ve changed over time, but after reuniting with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds, the two best friends finally start to get their groove back.
Speaking of Big Brother… Sparks are flying every which way between Reed and Erika. The pair have an immediate connection despite their rocky start. They butt heads as much as they flirt, which, for me, is so entertaining. I like my romance pairings to have various sparkings, okay? A little strife to add some spice to life. Growing up, Reed had a complex about proving himself to his little sister’s stuck-up best friend, they didn’t really interact aside from this one time one time they got lost overnight on a camping trip.
One of the things I truly enjoyed about An Alaskan Christmas was the research Jennifer Snow put into this book. Not just in the medical mumbo jumbo that I know absolutely nothing about but also in the search and rescue field which I’m happy to say I’m a fan of. So, when I say Ms Snow did research, I mean it! The one thing I didn’t really like was Erika was dogsitting and had the chance to put the dog’s shoes on but her response was “you’re a dog”.Ahem.
If you feel the need to protect yourself from the cold, including your feet, put the shoes on the dog because dogs can get frostbite too! I live in Florida, the complete opposite of Alaska, but my dogs wear boots so they don't burn their feet. If you feel the need to wear shoes to protect your feet from something, put boots on your dog. It bothers me so much that we have this educated character presented with the option of taking the precaution of protecting a dog from needing medical treatment and instead, she opts for "why would a dog need boots? so ridiculous." Why not educate your audience through your story and help put shoes on other dogs out there whose owners have that mentality through subliminal messaging? Instead, Jennifer Snow put dog boots in the story and made them seem ridiculous.
Moving on, An Alaskan Christmas is about love, connection, and discovery. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book (like I’m ever sure about anything), but as I read Erika and Reed’s story, I found myself enjoying it. Did I hope Erika would fall down the stairs for not putting the boots on the dog? Maybe. But other than that, I found this book a great read. I got my emotions all twisted about and tugged every which way just right and I really enjoyed the storyline.

Overall, I'm giving An Alaskan Christmas 4 stars and 5 flames. This book was well researched, entertaining, and absorbing. I look forward to reading the second book (hopefully Cassie's!). I received a copy of An Alaskan Christmas from Harlequin as a part of their 2019 Holiday Blog Tour and as super excited as being a part of Harlequin's blogging community, this does not influence my rating or review. I'm an overly opinionated heifer and, after thirty years on this planet, I'm stuck in the zone. But the FTC demands I make you aware of my connection to Harlequin so I'm connected to Harlequin as a voluntary blogger and reviewer. Now, keep reading for an excerpt of An Alaskan Christmas!
CHAPTER ONE
Her arms full of patient files, Dr. Erika Sheraton tipped her head back as Darren, her premed intern, poured a double shot of espresso down her throat. The hot liquid delivered the instant adrenaline boost she needed to get through the rest of her fourteen-hour shift.
Dinner? A quick glance at the clock on the wall above the nurses’ triage station revealed it was almost nine. A late dinner.
“How are you not vibrating? That’s your third in two hours.” Darren crumpled the paper cup and tossed it into a recycle bin as they walked.
“Caffeine stopped affecting me a long time ago. Now’s it’s about the taste,” she said, only half kidding. Double course loads and all-nighters in college and then med school had prepared her for the long hours she put in now as a general surgeon and caffeine had been her best friend.
The twentysomething looked like he could use a cup himself, as he stifled a yawn. His sandy blond hair poked up in the back as though he’d crawled out of bed at the last possible minute and his hazel eyes were bloodshot. If he was tired now after only eight hours on shift, he’d be reconsidering this particular profession by midnight. The staff at Alaska General Hospital never rested. The revolving doors at emergency constantly rotated with broken bones, heart attacks and bleeding patients filing in. No day was ever the same. Unpredictability kept Erika alert and on her toes.
“After these rounds, I’m going to need you to check in on Mr. Franklin—he’s in recovery. His family is wondering when they can see him.” The man’s entire extended family was camped out in the surgical ward waiting room—fifteen or sixteen of them at least. They couldn’t see the man, but they all refused to leave. Each one took turns driving the nurses on duty crazy. “Make sure they know only immediate family can go in. He needs his rest.”
Darren nodded, but a look of hesitation appeared behind his dark-rimmed glasses.
“What?” She checked her watch.
“I just… Well, shouldn’t you talk to them? I know his wife wanted to thank you…”
Erika shook her head. “Keeping him on the low-cholesterol, low-sodium diet I’ve prescribed—and off my operating table—will be thanks enough,” she said, scanning the top folder on her stack.
“Okay, but…”
She shot him a look.
“No problem. I’ll check in on him.”
“Thank you.” She continued down the hall toward the next high-priority patient.
“Don’t forget, your dad still wants to see you,” Darren said, struggling to keep up to her half sprint.
“I know.” And she could do without the hourly reminders. Her father rarely requested her presence during her rounds, so whatever it was wouldn’t be good. If she put him off long enough, maybe he’d forget.
“Top chart—Mr. Grayson. He’s scheduled for an appendectomy in a few hours,” she said, approaching the man’s hospital room.
Darren nodded as he smiled. “This old guy is hilarious. Did you know he was a stunt motorcycle driver in the circus in the ’80s?”
“No.” She knew he had an inflamed appendix and had waited far too long to come in. She knew his vitals and that in an hour, they’d be prepping him for surgery. Knowing personal details of a patient’s life didn’t make her job any easier or guarantee a better outcome. She juggled the files on one arm as she reached into her pocket for a new set of sterile gloves.
“Hey, before we go in there, can I talk to you?” Darren asked, stopping her outside the room. He stared at the checked patterned floor tiles.
Damn. “You’re requesting a transfer to a different physician.” He wasn’t the first medical student who’d gotten reassigned. She’d made it a month with Darren—a new record. Another intern bites the dust.
He nodded, obviously relieved that he hadn’t had to vocalize it himself. “You’re amazing, Dr. Sheraton, and I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to work with you, but you’re also very busy and unavailable…”
The sharp sting of the words was familiar. She’d heard the same speech from interns and boyfriends alike. She’d successfully eliminated the problem in one group right after her first year of residency…interns were hospital assigned and therefore out of her control.
“I mean I just need all the training I can get and between patients and your research work…”
She didn’t need an explanation. She was busy. Too busy to have someone following her around in fact. This was totally fine with her. “I understand.”
“You’re not upset?”
“Only about having to get my own coffee from now on,” she said.
The joke missed its mark and the intern’s eyes widened. “I can still do that…”
Wow, was she really that scary? She was demanding and expected the students to put in the hours she did. She may not be the friendliest doctor on staff, socializing after work and remembering birthdays and such, but she gave these interns a real picture of their future in medicine. Wasn’t that what they were there for? “I was kidding, Darren.”
“Oh…right.”
“Dr. Sheraton, please report to emergency. Stat.”
The call over the hospital intercom had her handing Darren the stack of folders. “Please take his heart rate and blood pressure,” she said, practically running to the elevators. “And don’t forget Mr. Franklin.”
“Got it,” he called after her.
The quiet twenty-six-second elevator ride to the first floor was the closest thing she got to a spa day. It was the only time she was forced to slow to a pace other than her own usual breakneck speed. But even that half a minute was too long. It gave her time to think. Think about her previous surgeries and replay the details—what went right, what went wrong, what she could do better next time. Constantly reevaluating herself made her a better surgeon, but too often it left her feeling like she was coming up slightly short of her potential. Her type A personality left little room for failure or complacency.
Checking her phone in her lab coat pocket, she scanned her schedule for the rest of the evening, evaluating what she could push back if this emergency demanded her immediate attention. The number of things marked urgent made her will the elevator to move quicker. She’d be lucky to get out of there by 2:00 a.m.
A text popped up from Darren.
If you change your mind about Mrs. Franklin…
She wouldn’t. She ignored the text from her intern—former intern—and put the phone away.
As the elevator stopped, she took a deep breath, expecting to see a flurry of organized chaos as the doors opened. Stretchers, ambulance lights flashing and sirens wailing outside, paramedics and nurses… Instead, she ran square into her father.
No emergency, just his six-foot-three frame and his usual neutral expression. It was impossible to read her father, as his face gave nothing away. His emotions were never too high or too low, just infuriatingly balanced no matter the circumstance. His calm presence and rational thinking made him fantastic at his profession, but sometimes he was irritating as shit as a father.
“Hi. I was just coming to see you.” Eventually.
“Walk with me,” he said, turning on his heel and nodding.
Her jaw clenched so tight her teeth might snap. This was so like him—assuming she could drop everything at his command. He may run the hospital, but he often had no idea how hectic her schedule was. “Can we talk as I do my rounds, Darren is…”
“More than capable,” he said, leading the way to his first-floor corner office. “And requesting to be transferred, I see.”
His tone made her palms sweat. He should be happy that she was pushing these interns to their limits. What awaited them once they graduated wasn’t for the faint of heart. Better to get used to grueling days and nights now, performing on little to no sleep, living on caffeine and leftover Halloween chocolate bars, than to realize they couldn’t cut it when lives were in their hands.
Unfortunately, he didn’t always agree with her beliefs. He wanted the interns to feel at home at Alaska General so they’d apply here once they graduated. The hospital was short staffed and more doctors would benefit everyone, but Erika preferred to work alongside the best.
Her father had an open-door policy—literally—so when he closed the office door behind her, she knew the head of General Surgery hadn’t called her in to discuss Thanksgiving dinner plans.
She glanced at his wall calendar as she sat. Especially since Thanksgiving was a week ago.
“Dad, this intern thing is just ridiculous…”
He held up a hand. “This isn’t about your inability to effectively manage others.”
Kick to the gut delivered and received. She clamped her lips together.
He opened his desk drawer and handed her a letter as he sat in the plush, leather chair behind his oversize mahogany desk.
Her eyes widened, seeing the Hospital Foundation logo on the top of the page. “Is this the final approval from the board for the clinical trials?” They’d submitted the application six months ago to start trials on a new antirejection drug after years of research, and they were waiting on the formal go-ahead to start with a test group.
Would Darren reconsider staying with her if he knew he could be part of a medical breakthrough? He’d been a lot of help in the past month.
“Just read it,” her father said.
She scanned the letter from the board of directors, feeling her excitement fade and anxiety rise with each word. “Recommended vacation? What is this?”
“I don’t like it either, but the board is reviewing policies and making sure we are following them,” he said, the edge indicating he’d been outvoted in this decision. He certainly didn’t believe in time off and had never encouraged her to take any. Her life was her career, just like him.
“But any day now we will be starting clinical trials on the new drug.” It had taken her father and his team almost three years to get the experimental antirejection product approved for testing on organ transplant patients and they’d finally gotten it. They’d worked around the clock for a year to make sure they did. Subjects were undergoing assessment right now to be ready for the trials.
Now was not the time to take a break.
Her father looked as though he’d made the same argument to the hospital board. “The team will have to handle it.”
So recommended actually meant forced. “Why now? I’m fine. I don’t need a break.” At twenty-nine, she was eager to prove herself as one of the top general surgeons in the state. Between her surgical success record and the research time she’d invested in this new drug, she was close. Helping her father get one step closer to winning the Lister Medal was high on her priority list. “Come on, Dad, you know I’m good. My last two operations were impossible surgeries…”
“Improbable surgeries.”
Erika clamped her lips together again, forcing her argument to stay put. It wouldn’t do any good. Three years working alongside her father and she’d yet to prove herself. Despite two back-to-back improbable surgeries that she’d performed successfully, he still doubted her abilities. His micromanagement over her research team had driven her insane, but he’d reluctantly agreed to let her run her own set of clinical trials on the antirejection drug, and she’d foolishly believed she was making progress with him. Now she was being forced into taking a break.
What the hell was a break? She hadn’t had one since starting university. She’d graduated with her bachelor’s in three years instead of four by doubling up on courses and then had applied directly to med school. She’d interned at Alaska General and secured a position there shortly after graduation. She couldn’t remember the last day she had off, let alone…she glanced at the letter. Two weeks?
What the hell would she do with all that free time?

Excerpted from An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow, Copyright © 2019 by Jennifer Snow. Published by HQN Books.


Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the RWA, the Alberta Writers Guild, Canadian Authors Association and SheWrites.org. Her first Brookhollow book was a finalist in the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold contest and the Golden Quill Award. More information can be found on her website.

You can connect with Jennifer Snow on social media here::



Alright folks, that's it for this one. I'm going to go crawl into bed and wait for the midol to mock me as I pass out for a few hours. Double anaemia menstrual humour. It's a niche audience. I don't have a charity screened and put together for this post, but, if y'all feel giving, you can swing by St Jude's or surf through my other reviews for another nonprofit organisation. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

Saturday, 23 November 2019

★Blog Tour★ Review of All Fired Up by Lori Foster

All Fired Up by Lori Foster
Road to Love #3
Published 19 November 2019 by HQN Books

He’s tantalizing trouble she can’t resist…
Charlotte Parrish has always wanted a certain kind of man: someone responsible, settled, boring. Bad boys need not apply. But when her car leaves her stranded and a mysterious stranger with brooding eyes and a protective streak comes to her rescue, she can’t deny how drawn she is to him. In town searching for family he’s never met, Mitch is everything she never thought she wanted—and suddenly everything she craves.
Finding his half brothers after all these years is more than Mitch Crews has allowed himself to wish for. Finding love never even crossed his mind…until he meets Charlotte. She’s sweet, warmhearted, sexier than she knows—and too damn good for an ex-con like him. But when his past comes back to haunt him, putting Charlotte—and the family he’s come to care for—in danger, Mitch isn’t playing by the rules. He’s already surrendered his heart, but now he’ll risk his life.



All Fired Up is probably going to be my favourite of the Road to Love series, folks. Charlotte Parrish Brodie and Jack's surrogate baby sister finally gets her story this time around, and, contrary to her plans, she is getting a guy who is a lot like her 'brothers'. Mitch Crews (you read that right) is in Red Oak, Ohio to find his half-brothers, Brodie and Jack, and then figure out what comes next. But, oops, he slipped and fell for the really attractive blonde outside of Freddie's who was having car problems. Y'all know how I said Jack and Ronnie had a meet-cute, well, Mitch has a meet-cute. With his brothers who show up to help Charlotte with her car and find a random arsed dude already doing so and it's not until Ros pops in with a "you look a super familiar" does anybody do some addition. And it's hilarious enough to elicit a snortle out of yours truly in the line at Starbucks, it won't be the last time I embarrass myself there. I live there.
We have a full-on family reunion in this book, y'all and you will laugh and cry (I am an emotional hot mess) just like at any family reunion. Brodie, who I've just wanted to throw out a dang window of a train most of this series, finally shows himself to be funny and endearing. Don't know how it happened but there it is. Jack and Ronnie are the comedic duo we fell for in Slow Ride. And Momma Ros is our reigning queen and I pledge unending fealty to that woman. Also, can she adopt me? Rosalyn immediately adopts Mitch into the Crews family and bulldozes through Mitch's wariness like he's her blood-get and I love her so much for that. And she's Team Mitch-Charlotte from the first second. And for Mitch who doesn't really know what 'family love' feels like, it's all a bit overwhelming. Luckily, Charlotte is always right there for him, supporting him and letting him know "it's okay to be uncomfortable with all of it, they're weird, but you'll get used to them and love them as much as they love you".
Our baddie du jour for this book actually makes my skin crawl, Newman was Mitch's mom's scummy drug-dealer/live-in abusive boyfriend and he's after Mitch and "what he owes him". Massive eye roll there. Let's just let Ronnie have at him, because the guy is positively creepy. And narcissistic. And sinister. And Lori Foster writes this bad guy very well.
Did I mention that Mitch is a Crews through and through? Paws down. He's rescued a pupper too! He's a rough beginning and is a tad bit timid, but Howler and Charlotte are all about Brute the pit and helping him open up. And I will sob incoherently into my Ben and Jerry's dairy-free ice cream over this! Charlotte and Brute's bond is one of the reasons that Mitch decides that Charlotte is definitely his Forever Girl. Anyways, this book is totally puppy powered. I had to say it.
I want to put some content warnings in here for y’all. So, if you feel the need to have warnings, click the button to reveal all!

Overall, I'm giving All Fired Up 4 stars and 3 flames. This book was funny and heartwarming. I know this one is probably the last in the series, but I truly wish there was another book to look forward to with the Crews family in it. Now! for the disclaimer! I received an ARC of All Fired Up from Harlequin in exchange for an honest review and I got to participate in my very first Harlequin blog tour. Do y'all know how exciting this was? I squee. But a free book does not influence my opinion or my review or my rating. So this review is all from my mind and heart and completely coffee-fueled. Thank you to Harlequin and to Justine for giving me this opportunity! Now, keep reading for an excerpt of All Fired Up!


From CHAPTER ONE
The warm, muggy night closed around him, leaving his shirt damp in places. Sweat prickled the back of his neck. Inside Freddie’s he’d find air-conditioning, but he’d never again take fresh air for granted. He valued every single breath of humid air that filled his lungs.
The moon climbed the black sky as time slipped by. How much time, he didn’t know: he’d stopped keeping track the second he saw her.
Headlights from the occasional passing car came near him but didn’t intrude on the shadows where he stood.
Transfixed by her.
Damn, he wanted that mouth.
In the short time he’d locked eyes on her, a dozen fantasies had formed—most of them based on her naked lips, the way she occasionally pursed them, how she twisted her lips to the side in frustration, even how she blew out a breath. The whole package was nice…but it was her mouth that kept him unmoving, staring. Imagining.
Slight of build, she served as a bright spot in the dark gloom. Understated and yet something struck him as undeniably sexy.
Once he’d noticed her, he couldn’t look away.
After speaking softly into a phone, she bit her plump bottom lip, and her expression showed frustrated defeat.
The lady had made several consecutive calls. Was she in need of assistance? Given the way she’d circled a car, occasionally glaring at it, he thought she did. Judging by her frown, there wouldn’t be any help on the way.
Since getting out of prison a year ago, Mitch had spent an excess of time with women. Hell, next to fresh air, freedom and steak, sex topped his list. He’d immersed himself in human contact, the gentleness, the carnality.
He’d taken satisfaction in pleasing someone else while abating a base need. Hell, watching a woman come gave him as much pleasure as his own release.
So he’d gotten his fill and then some—all while making plans to change the course of his life. To make it better. To carve out a meaningful future.
Here he was, where he needed to be, determined, resolute… and sidetracked by a gorgeous woman.
That in itself left him edgy with curiosity. No other woman had snagged his attention this way. He knew zip about her, and yet seeing her had heat building beneath his skin. He tried to look away, but his attention kept zeroing back.
Freaking bizarre.
It was like seeing something you hadn’t known you wanted, but immediately recognizing it as necessary.
Even dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops, he knew the lady had nothing in common with him. Innocence all but screamed from her slender body and reserved manner. To someone with his jaded background, that put her in the “do not touch” category.
His fingers curled and his palms burned. Yeah, he wanted to touch her despite that.
And he didn’t look away.
From the shadowed corner just outside the bar, he watched her thumb dial another number into her phone. While holding the phone to her ear, she paced. The overhead glow of the security light touched her in select places, alternately highlighting and then shadowing her understated curves.
High cheekbones framed a slender, straight nose. She tucked a few drifting curls behind a small ear. Though rounded, he saw the mulish determination in her stubborn little chin. And that mouth…thoughts of it under his mouth—and on his body—tightened his jaw until his molars ached.
For the first time in years, he wondered if he could put off his agenda for a bit, say something to her, see if there was something between them despite the seemingly obvious roadblocks. Opposites attract, and all that.
He’d made this trip a center point for a new future.
In this Podunk town he’d subtly uncovered what he could about Brodie and Jack Crews. That was the priority after all. Moving forward, leaving the past behind. It started with the Crews brothers. Hitting the bar tonight might have gained him more insight into them.
But would a slight detour—the type with long curly brown hair and a sweet little body—matter so much?
If he listened to his dick, the answer was no. His balls were giving a resounding “go for it” as well.
His head though… Hell, his head claimed he could afford a delay. In the grand scheme of things, it wouldn’t matter.
Since arriving in town, he’d discovered that the men were well liked, each of them married, and they had an odd but interesting business called Mustang Transport. Locals claimed they dealt with mundane shit as well as serial killers and psychopaths. Somewhere in the middle, the truth lurked.
He’d also heard about their mother. He’d been hearing about her for as long as he could remember. For very different reasons she interested him almost as much as Brodie and Jack.
He had no connection to Rosalyn Crews, but meeting the men felt important in a way nothing else ever had. He couldn’t explain it, even to himself. He’d gone through life making damn sure he needed no one, and that he wanted only for things he could get for himself.
Now, much as it chapped his ass, he wanted something else— and it depended on Brodie and Jack Crews.
It didn’t have to happen right away, though. He wouldn’t mind burning off some energy before making that initial contact—especially if he could convince this woman to give him a few hours of her time.
He noted every small movement as she spoke into her phone. He couldn’t catch every word, but the low murmur of her voice stroked over him. He was pretty sure she left a message.
Suddenly she held the phone back and stared at it. Hot annoyance tightened her mouth and brought down her brows.
“Perfect. Just freaking perfect.”
He heard that loud and clear.
Jamming the phone into a back pocket—a tight fit over that sweetly rounded backside—she dropped her head with a throaty groan that traveled along his spine like a sensual stroke. Her eyes closed, her mouth flattened, and the damp night drew her long, light brown hair into coiling curls.
He’d love to tangle his fingers in her unruly hair.
As if spurred by her innate energy, the curls moved, bouncing a little, drifting with the breeze. Judging people had kept him alive. With this woman, he sensed she didn’t indulge in downtime very often. Even standing still, she seemed to…spark with energy.
Curiosity cut into him, mingling with the carnal interest.
Had she been stood up? Walked out on a date?
Just then she growled, “Dead. Stupid phone.” The thump of her hand to a metal lamppost sent a dull clang ringing over the area. “Now what?”
Ah, well that answered his question.
White teeth nibbled her bottom lip in consideration. Considering, she glanced at the bar, shook her head once, and returned to pacing.
Clouds covered the moon, amplifying the darkness. She was far too petite to be stranded alone.
Doesn’t mean she wants a quick fuck, he argued with himself.
The young woman stewing in front of him might be more likely to sell brownies at a local bake sale, but engage in a hot one-night stand? Probably not.
Sure, she was standing outside a rowdy bar all alone on a late night—but then, so was he.
So what should he do? Be smart and turn away, or see if she needed help? He remained undecided when two men exited the bar with a lot of noisy fanfare.
Drunken asses.
The woman glanced up, then quickly away with a roll of her eyes—but not quickly enough to avoid notice.
“Charlotte, hey! Whatssup?” With a leer, a mop-headed man added, “You waitin’ for me, sugar?”
Mitch caught the way his unshaven bud snickered, proving the irony in the question.
“Definitely not,” she replied, her tone crisp and clear.
Mitch liked the sound of her voice. Not all girly or too sweet, but firm and no-nonsense.
He did not like how the two dunces eyeballed her anyway, stumbling in her direction despite her preferences.
“Ah, c’mon now, don’t be like that,” the talkative one said.
His idiot friend guffawed, stumbled and heckled some more.
Charlotte—nice name—propped her hands on slim hips and issued a dire warning. “You’d be smart to keep walking, Bernie.”
“How come you’re here alone?” He tried a teasing voice that Mitch suspected did the opposite of entice. “You know where to find me this time of night.”
“Drunk, as usual. Yes, I know.” Annoyance squared her narrow shoulders. “Not that it’s any of your business, but I finished a late delivery and was heading home, then had car trouble.”
She added with menace, “Help is on the way.”
“I’ll keep ya company until then.”
“No, you will not.”
“But I’m already here.” Intent brought Bernie closer.
She didn’t exactly look afraid, but more like fed up. Before Mitch gave it enough thought, his feet carried him out of the shadows and immediately drew her attention.
Soft blue. Now that he saw her eyes more clearly, he found them every bit as compelling as her mouth.
Alert, maybe a little wary, she zeroed in on him. Her lips parted and she blinked twice.
You’re sealing your fate, sugar. He tried a smile of part interest, part reassurance.
Her gaze went beyond him, searching the darkness, and then snapped back again. “Where did you come from?”
With his attention only on her, Mitch held up his hands and avoided a direct answer. “Just seeing if you need any help.”
Emboldened by liquid courage, the two men blustered at him. “G’lost, asshole. She don’t need nothin’ from you.”
As if Bernie and his bad grammar didn’t hover there beside her, Charlotte asked, “You’re new around here?”
Mitch gave her a long look. What, did she know everyone in Red Oak, Ohio? Probably. He could jog the main street, one end to the other, without breaking a sweat. “I’ve been here a few days.” Whether he was passing through, or sticking around, wasn’t her business. Besides, for now, he wasn’t sure.
Brazen stupidity urged Bernie to step up in front of him. “You ain’t listening. I told you to—”
Disgust curved Mitch’s mouth into a mean smile meant to intimidate. “You’re right. I’m not listening to you.” Insulting disregard took his gaze over the smaller man before he dismissed him. “I’m talking only to her.”
By size difference alone, it was beyond ludicrous for Bernie to issue a challenge.
And yet, he did. “Are you fuckin’ stupid?”
Charlotte’s voice, now edged with anger, interrupted anything Mitch might have replied or done. “You’ve been warned, Bernie. If you don’t knock it off right now, you are not going to like the consequences.”
Still, the fool didn’t listen. “I said,” Bernie blasted, his breath putrid, “for you to get lost.” A scrawny fist, aiming for Mitch’s face, swatted through the air.
Bad move, asshole.
Instincts could be a son of a bitch. Mitch leaned away from the weak hit…and at the same time automatically jabbed with his right.
His fist landed right on Bernie’s chin.
Eyes rolling back, the smaller man started to drop.
Infuriated that he’d lost his grip in front of Charlotte, Mitch caught the front of Bernie’s shirt and held him on his tiptoes. “You,” he whispered between barely moving lips, “need to learn when to quit.” Familiar anger surfaced despite his efforts to tamp it down…
And a small, cool hand touched him.
Struck clean down to his toes, Mitch peered first at those pale, tapered fingers with short, neat nails resting lightly against the roped muscles of his sun-darkened forearm.
Fucking sexy, that’s what it was, highlighting all their differences, especially those of strength and capability.
Her face drew him next, the delicate lines, smooth skin…that mouth and those eyes.
That wild hair.
“I think,” she said softly, a smile teasing her mouth, “if you let Bernie go now, he’ll make a hasty retreat.” Slanting those mesmerizing eyes toward old Bernie, she added with silky menace, “At least, he better.”
Keen awareness nudged out anger.
Everything about her appealed to him.
She stood to his left, and the heady scent of her skin and hair—like baby powder and flowers—teased his nose.
He drew a deeper, fuller breath, filling his lungs with her and knew he could happily drown on that scent.
Slowly, wanting to keep her close, Mitch unclenched his fingers and allowed Bernie to stumble back to where his buddy helped to prop him up.
Unconcerned with that, Charlotte’s fingers shifted in the lightest of explorations before she snatched her hand away.
Interesting—especially that splash of color on her cheeks.
She looked up at him, gave a wan smile, and whispered, “Thank you.”
“For popping him?”
Curls bounced as she gave a quick shake of her head. “For not doing him more damage.” She wrinkled her nose, leaning closer to confide, “You could have, I know.”
Huh. No recriminations?
She actually thanked him?
Not what he was used to, but he’d take it.

Excerpted from All Fired Up by Lori Foster. Copyright © 2019 by Lori Foster Published by HQN Books.


Lori Foster first published with Harlequin in January 1996. Her second book launched Temptation Blaze and her 25th book launched Temptation Heat. Since those early days, Lori has routinely had 6 to 10 releases a year. She’s a Waldenbooks, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author with over 100 titles published through a variety of houses, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martins, Harlequin and Silhouette.
Lori also writes as L.L. Foster.

You can connect with Lori on social media here::


Other Lori Foster Books I've reviewed::
Driven to Distraction|Slow Ride


Today, Manatee and I are attending a holiday party (something I haven't done since I was a teen) but that's the magic of a service dog. Dude helps me do normal.
This post's charity is one I've been following on Instagram for a while now. Animal Action Guangzhou focuses on rescuing dogs from the meat market and rehabbing them then finding them homes all over the world. Because of their focus, they tend to have a lot of vet visits and that means vet bills. So, if you're of a means and a mind to help out the AAGZ crew, that link is here.
Until next time, have a happily ever after!

Friday, 22 November 2019

Review of Slow Ride by Lori Foster

Slow Ride by Lori Foster
Road to Love #2
Published 12 March 2019 by HQN Books

You can’t put the brakes on love…
Ronnie Ashford needs a distraction. In the morning, she has to offer arrogant, conventional Jack Crews a job and convince him not to take it. She doesn’t need anyone’s help, thank you very much. But tonight is all about the tall, sexy stranger who just walked in the bar—and all the delicious trouble they could get into together. Too bad just as things are heating up between them, he whispers the three little words that destroy everything: “I’m Jack Crews.”
Jack is determined to connect with fiery Ronnie—in bed and out of it—but her terms are clear. If he takes the job, helping her acquire prized artifacts for her mysterious bosses, anything between them is strictly off-limits. Somehow he has to convince a woman who’s never felt like she belonged that she’s found her place—with him. And with the danger sparking hotter than the fire between them, it’s going to be one unforgettable trip…



Slow Ride is everything its predecessor, Driven to Distraction, isn’t. Ronnie Ashford and Jack Crew have a hilarious meet-cute and I’m all over this pairing like a wine connoisseur over a 1999 Château LaTour Pauillac (I totally googled that, a bottle recently auctioned for £330/$427 so ‘sgood). Ronnie doesn’t do commitments, no dating, no relationships, no friendships, no attachments whatsoever, just her job, even her apartment is ready to leave at a moment’s notice. She has some trauma in her past that makes her abrasive and standoffish. Then we have Jack who’s already renovating a house and does favours for his old school teacher and has so many community ties, he’s a walking Gordian Knot. But boy-meets-girl and slowly but surely, things fall into place. With suspense and a teensy mystery tossed in for flavour. And it does have flavour. The bad guy du jour, North Runde, skeeves me out. My first thought was literally, and I’m quoting from my notes here, “fudging serial killer obsessed with Ronnie”. The vibes coming off this guy made me glad Ronnie and I are of the same mind, never go anywhere without a knife. I’m a fan of Ronnie’s bosses, gothic twins Drake and Drew, and Ronnie is definitely my favourite character in this one. She’s stereotype edgy but I adore her because Lori doesn’t usually write characters like Ronnie and it shows that she’s expanding her character types. Yay!
I had a couple things I wasn't fond of in Slow Ride. I'm just going to get this out of the way. I keep calling the book Slow to Ride and that is a totally different connotation, don't you think? Jack's internal dialogue could be a bit, well, objectifying towards Ronnie. The cringey part that got me was post-"trust has been established" sex, he's lying there with her and thinking "He felt like he'd just solved a difficult puzzle, conquered a nation, scored first prize." Cringe! It was irksome to read. And yes, I did spend a good ten minutes venting about this scene while I was reading.

I want to put some content warnings in here for y’all. So, if you feel the need to have warnings, click the button to reveal all!

Overall, I'm giving Slow Ride 4 stars and 4 flames because this is the Lori Foster I know and love. I highly encourage y'all to go find yourselves a copy if you're into respectful alpha men, mustang cars, weird collectors, and goofy dogs.


Lori Foster first published with Harlequin in January 1996. Her second book launched Temptation Blaze and her 25th book launched Temptation Heat. Since those early days, Lori has routinely had 6 to 10 releases a year. She’s a Waldenbooks, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and New York Times bestselling author with over 100 titles published through a variety of houses, including Berkley/Jove, Kensington, St. Martins, Harlequin and Silhouette.
Lori also writes as L.L. Foster.

You can connect with Lori on social media here::


Other Lori Foster Books I've reviewed::
Driven to Distraction


We're going house hunting next week during Thanksgiving Break, so y'all cross your fingers that we find a nice place on our wanderings around the Orlando area. . This post's charity of choice is The ASPCA because my heartstrings got tugged again. Oops. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

Saturday, 2 November 2019

★Blog Tour★ Review & Excerpt of This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman

This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman
Bow Street Bachelors #1
Published 29 October 2019 by St Martin’s Paperbacks

Introducing the Bow Street Bachelors—men who work undercover for London’s first official police force—and the women they serve to protect. . .and wed?
Shipping heiress Georgiana Caversteed is done with men who covet her purse more than her person. Even worse than the ton’s lecherous fortune hunters, however, is the cruel cousin determined to force Georgie into marriage. If only she could find a way to be . . . widowed? Georgie hatches a madcap scheme to wed a condemned criminal before he’s set to be executed. All she has to do is find an eligible bachelor in prison to marry her, and she’ll be free. What could possibly go wrong?
Benedict William Henry Wylde, scapegrace second son of the late Earl of Morcott and well-known rake, is in Newgate prison undercover, working for Bow Street. Georgie doesn’t realize who he is when she marries him—and she most certainly never expects to bump into her very-much-alive, and very handsome, husband of convenience at a society gathering weeks later. Soon Wylde finds himself courting his own wife, hoping to win her heart since he already has her hand. But how can this seductive rogue convince brazen, beautiful Georgie that he wants to be together…until actual death do they part?




Where to start...Oh, right. I'm reviewing This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman as a part of a blog tour put together by the amazing folks at St. Martin's Press and SMP Romance. The FTC requires this disclaimer even though every person who has ever met me knows that I am way too opinionated for a free book to sway my opinion. Let's get to this before the coffee runs out!
I was hooked into this book right from the start. The opening scene was all the sketchy a girl could ask for, a cloaked figure, nocturnal sneaking, mystery and intrigue (those are different!), and, marriage for reasons that don't involve love. Georgiana "Georgie" Caversteed is being 'hunted' by her creep-o cousin who wants to marry her for her money and he's not being subtle about it. Her plan is to marry a man sentenced to be hanged and live her life as the woefully ignored wife of an always travelling husband. Girl, yes! Georgie is kind of next-level if you ask me, in a time where 'proper' women basically had to be married, she had her plan all figured out on how to be her own woman. Marry a man sentenced to death, boom! instant secret widow and freedom to do as she pleases! And her husband of (in)convenience? Not actually a ne'er-do-well convict bound for Tasmania in the morning. He's a war hero, a member of the ton, -coowner of a gambling hell, and an undercover Bow Street Runner. Benedict "Ben" Hyde is given two options from the prison warden, marry mystery lady or die right there. Ben's Not Happy about this situation and completely dumbstruck when he finds out the identity of his new bride, the wealthiest woman in London. And I am telling you the book, huh? Just slap my name on this book, I love it!
The dynamics between Ben and Georgie are stellar. Ben gives Georgie the ability to be herself, enjoy herself, and have adventures (because adventures should be shared). And, Georgie gives Ben a better sense of self-worth little by little, she shows him how to feel, and she helps him out with his case! Reading this, you can feel the sparks between Ben and Georgie from the start, not the instantaneous 'love them, gotta have them, be with them forever' deal, but that warm butterfly feeling that kind of makes you want to vomit but also makes you want to skip everywhere and it quickly gets out of control and OHMIGOSH I LURV THEM! These two understand each other wonderfully and, even when they have a misunderstanding, they don't flounce off for an eternity and a half or break things off, they talk. They're magical unicorns.
Character Time! My favourite character aside from our leads has to be either Georgiana's younger sister, Juliet, or Benedict's little street urchin friend, Jem. Juliet acts like an airhead, but she's pretty on the ball. She's not as fierce as Georgie, but she has no use for the puff-shirts and one of my favourite conversations in this story is between Georgie and Juliet where they ridicule a man, who's after the Caversteed fortune of course, who has sworn to slay dragons for Juliet. And she's head-over-heels for a preacher's kid from their hometown and subtly sticks it to her matchmaking, title-hunting mother every chance she gets it seems. And Jem is just, well, you have to meet Jem to understand. I love that kid. I like Pieter, the right-hand man Georgie inherited from her father, he's overprotective but also knows Georgie can take care of herself. We love a man who gets that zen balance. I like the teasing camaraderie between Ben and his co-owner friends (and fellow runners), Alex and Seb. My dork babies. My least favourite characters? Georgiana and Juliet's mother and their cousin, Josiah. Josiah is a drunk, a gambling addict, and so many other creeper things that involve me digging out my taser.
I flat-out snorted at Starbucks while reading one passage. The only thing I'll say is, Georgie and Ben actually have the same sense of humour. Poor Mother Caversteed, she never stood a chance. There are some things I didn't see coming in This Earl of Mine and I do love a book that keeps me on my toes. I liked that we had consistent historical accuracy in our content, I'm a trifling little chit about this, I will full-stop on a hist-rom that doesn't give me accuracy for days. I'm at peace with this aspect of my personality, don't judge me.
I just really hated Josiah. His entire whole character was human trash. I also learned that reading the word "coitus" just ruins a love scene for me. It's right up there with "moist", y'all. I also wish there had been some friendship out there for Georgie. That girl needs a friend. I'm giving This Earl of Mine four stars and three flames. I enjoyed this book and it was a great series opener and I cannot wait to read the next book! I think I've covered everything in my notes, it sure seems like it, so this is the end of my review! But, keep reading for an excerpt!



Chapter 1.

London, March 1816.
There were worse places to find a husband than Newgate Prison.
Of course there were.
It was just that, at present, Georgie couldn’t think of any.
“Georgiana Caversteed, this is a terrible idea.” Georgie frowned at her burly companion, Pieter Smit, as the nondescript carriage he’d summoned to convey them to London’s most notorious jail rocked to a halt on the cobbled street. The salt-weathered Dutchman always used her full name whenever he disapproved of some- thing she was doing. Which was often.
“Your father would turn in his watery grave if he knew what you were about.”
That was undoubtedly true. Until three days ago, en- listing a husband from amongst the ranks of London’s most dangerous criminals had not featured prominently on her list of life goals. But desperate times called for desperate measures. Or, in this case, for a desperate felon about to be hanged. A felon she would marry before the night was through.
Georgie peered out into the rain-drizzled street, then up, up the near-windowless walls. They rose into the mist, five stories high, a vast expanse of brickwork, bleak and unpromising. A church bell tolled somewhere in the darkness, a forlorn clang like a death knell. Her stomach knotted with a grim sense of foreboding.
Was she really going to go through with this? It had seemed a good plan, in the safety of Grosvenor Square. The perfect way to thwart Cousin Josiah once and for all. She stepped from the carriage, ducked her head against the rain, and followed Pieter under a vast arched gate. Her heart hammered at the audacity of what she planned. They’d taken the same route as condemned prisoners on the way to Tyburn tree, only in reverse. West to east, from the rarefied social strata of Mayfair through gradually rougher and bleaker neighborhoods, Holborn and St. Giles, to this miserable place where the dregs of humanity had been incarcerated. Georgie felt as if she were nearing her own execution.
She shook off the pervasive aura of doom and straightened her spine. This was her choice. However unpalat- able the next few minutes might be, the alternative was far worse. Better a temporary marriage to a murderous, unwashed criminal than a lifetime of misery with Josiah. They crossed the deserted outer courtyard, and Georgie cleared her throat, trying not to inhale the foul-smelling air that seeped from the very pores of the building. “You have it all arranged? They are expecting us?”
Pieter nodded. “Aye. I’ve greased the wheels with yer blunt, my girl. The proctor and the ordinary are both bent as copper shillings. Used to having their palms greased, those two, the greedy bastards.”
Her father’s right-hand man had never minced words in front of her, and Georgie appreciated his bluntness. So few people in the ton ever said what they really meant. Pieter’s honesty was refreshing. He’d been her father’s man for twenty years before she’d even been born. A case of mumps had prevented him from accompanying William Caversteed on his last, fateful voyage, and Georgie had often thought that if Pieter had been with her father, maybe he’d still be alive. Little things like squalls, ship- wrecks, and attacks from Barbary pirates would be mere inconveniences to a man like Pieter Smit.
In the five years since Papa’s death, Pieter’s steadfast loyalty had been dedicated to William’s daughters, and Georgie loved the gruff, hulking manservant like a second father. He would see her through this madcap scheme— even if he disapproved.
She tugged the hood of her cloak down to stave off the drizzle. This place was filled with murderers, highway- men, forgers, and thieves. Poor wretches slated to die, or those “lucky” few whose sentences had been commuted to transportation. Yet in her own way, she was equally desperate.
“You are sure that this man is to be hanged tomorrow?” Pieter nodded grimly as he rapped on a wooden door.
“I am. A low sort he is, by all accounts.”
She shouldn’t ask, didn’t want to know too much about the man whose name she was purchasing. A man whose death would spell her own freedom. She would be wed and widowed within twenty-four hours.

From This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.


Kate Bateman, (also writing as K. C. Bateman), is the #1 bestselling author of historical romances, including her RITA® nominated Renaissance romp, The Devil To Pay, and the novels in the Secrets & Spies series To Steal a Heart, A Raven’s Heart, and A Counterfeit Heart. When not writing novels that feature feisty, intelligent heroines and sexy, snarky heroes you want to both strangle and kiss, Kate works as a fine art appraiser and on-screen antiques expert for several popular TV shows in the UK. She splits her time between Illinois and her native England. Follow her on Twitter to learn more.

You can interact with her online here::


This week has been fun. The bar next to my complex's dog park got a new sign with rapidly flashing blue, green, and white lights. I saw them then I hit the ground, the doctor at the Emergency Care annex to my Medial Centre thinks I had some type of seizure. I got scheduled with my neuro (she's going to love this so much) and I can't wait for whatever new tests I'm going to be put through. I also upped my Aimovig to double the dosage and, while I love the Aimovig for taking away the constant migraine hellscape, the side effects are also doubled, so I keep randomly falling asleep. Oh, and my air conditioner caught fire. Everybody's okay, nobody's hurt, just not something I needed at 3AM, y'know? FUN WEEKEND ALL AROUND.
Anyways, my brain is fried. I'm back-dating this (at least I'm honest) for Saturday like it was supposed to be posted but guess who forgot to do the scheduling and went to the Emergency Care? Yep. And then I pretty much slept until MONDAY thinking it was already published. I'm hoping that was a final October kick and not November hating on me. I hope y'all have a less-cursed life and, until next time, have a happily ever after!