book review, New Book

The Return of the Disappearing Duke

New historical romance alert! The talented Lara Temple has just released another book, The Return of the Disappearing Duke!

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Cleo is an adventurous young woman in 1822, having spent the past year traveling, and finally ending up in Egypt, with her father and brother. But when she’s separated from them due to tragedy and circumstance, she must don a disguise and head for home. But with a band of men at her heels and nothing but a necklace to sell, she must search for help in the most unlikely of places.

Rafe hadn’t expected to begin his morning with a woman dressed like a boy looking for his help. Cleo’s being hunted and needs to get back to England and safety. Although he must return there as well to claim his inherited title, he’s loath today go home. But Cleo’s sudden appearance seems to be the push he needs to face his demons.

Now they must work together to find a way out of the city and away from the men who chase Cleo. She’s in need of a protector, and he can’t say no to her. Traveling in tight quarters makes for close company, and soon more than friendly companionship blooms. But will it survive by the end of their journey?

Wow, another delicious romance by Lara Temple! it’s not often I read romances based in Egypt, but I’m so glad I did this time. The way she brought the ancient world alive through the scope of early archeology and experiences was lovely. The setting was truly immaculate.

Rafe and Cleo had a wonderful relationship from their first meeting. Their banter added a super fun layer to their budding romance that was only heightened by the clear chemistry they had. The sparks were vibrant and you really rooted for them through every leg of their journey.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any and all fans of historical romance, especially if they like a little comedy and heat between the pages.

book review

Falling for the Innkeeper

Good afternoon reader friends! Today I have a brand new review for you, a sweet romance by Meghann Whistler entitled Falling for the Innkeeper!

  • Heat Level: ❤️
  • Genre: Christian Romance
  • Overall Rating: 5/6 Glass Slippers

Laura Lessoway is just trying to keep moving forward in the wake of a divorce from her workaholic husband. She and her young daughter Emma have been living at the Sea Glass Inn, a place once owned by her grandmother and left partially to her. Her mother’s trying to sell it, but Laura isn’t going to let her grandmother’s legacy go without a fight.

Johnathan Masters is a lawyer working on behalf of Carberry Hotels and is hoping to snag a prime piece of ocean front property. He’s not keen on playing hardball with a single mom, but he’s already arranged to stay a few days and is hoping he’ll seal the deal and go back to his office a winner.

Both are dealing with the scars of their pasts and learning to overcome their own fears for the future. While there’s an old saying that sea air cures all, it’ll take more than a stroll on the beaches of Cape Cod to bring this pair together.

Personally, I generally haven’t read much Christian romance, but I really enjoyed how Whistler made it a theme in her book without it being the focus. Laura’s faith just added to her character and it was nice to see how each of her decisions was given multiple layers of thought. Still, if you don’t enjoy religion as an ongoing theme, this book might not be for you, but general romance readers will probably see it as I did–a Hallmark-ish novel set in a charming location.

Laura and Johnathan have a great back and forth. They really seemed matched when it came to wits, and gave as good as they got. Honestly, if I didn’t know it was Whistler’s debut novel, I would have thought she was a seasoned author! The scenery was clear and the inner thoughts of the main characters were clear as a bell.

I’d recommend this book to all romance readers who enjoy a sweet read with a little faith and a whole lot of laughs.

book review, history, review

The Winter Sea

Time hopping historicals are always my go to when it comes to having a good time. And any historical romance reader knows Susanna Kearsley is a big name for all things historical. I picked up a paperback of The Winter Sea to read by the pool and loved it. The twist at the end made the story, but when it comes to that, my lips are sealed.

  • Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction/Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Bestselling author Carrie MacClellan travels the world, following the stories she writes. Not every tale comes from her imagination, though. Carrie’s always heard whispers, seen hints of things that have happened, and knows how to research into her visions to dig up the true facts behind old ruins and aged letters. She moves to a cottage in Cruden Bay in the shadows of Slains Castle to work on another book, one that will hit closer to home than any before.

In 1708, Sophia Paterson has not lived an easy life. Orphaned and alone, she goes to live with a distant relative, the Countess of Errol, at Slains Castle. Sophia will be on the coast of Scotland, overlooking the North Sea and the strange ships that carry hints of Jacobite rebellion and encoded notes. One in particular carries a cargo too precious for words, and soon Sophia is entangled in a world of secrets and the handsome John Moray who has a price on his head.

As Carrie works to separate fact from fiction, her book begins to unravel family secrets. The young woman Sophia is no longer just a name on paper and John isn’t some blur of a man with eyes like a storm sea. Their pasts become her reality, and it’s up to her to write their ending.

You guys, I loved this book. I’ve gotten pretty lucky lately in the reading department, but Kearsley really pulled me in with her tale of forbidden love and modern day detective work. I rooted for Sophia and John from their first meeting and nervously waited for each historical document Carrie unearthed. There were breadcrumbs and a twist that had had me reeling.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it for all historical and contemporary romance fans.

book review

The Baby Contract by Nan Reinhardt

The Baby Contract

5/6 Glass Slippers

Accidental baby is a very popular genre but this book is the exact opposite. The baby is planned. When Tierney is ready for a baby, she looks at a sperm bank, ready to to start her life. It’s a very “I’m an independent woman who don’t need no man” situation. The problem is, there is a man. His name is Brendan and he was her brother’s best friend. After the brother died serving his country, Brendan honors his friend by taking care Tierney, like a brother would. Too bad when he looks at her, he no longer sees his friend’s kid sister.

So what does he do, he suggests they get married and have the baby together. WHAT? Are you kidding me? That’s possibly the craziest idea I’ve ever seen in a romance novel. And yet, it works.

Tierney isn’t a standard damsel in distress and I think that’s why I liked her so much. She is a powerful character and loves fiercely. I relate to her so much and can’t quite go into all the details as to why without getting crazy personal. Read this book, you won’t regret getting the baby contract.

Do you like giveaways? Better question, do you like coffee and wine? The author, Nan, is giving away handmade wine glass charms and a $10 Starbucks giftcard. Check out the Rafflecopter contest for details on how to enter.

Kelsey and I hope you and yours are all safe in these crazy times. We’ll be in touch soon- Sarah

book review, New Book

Hades

I’ve always had a thing for mythology. I love the legends and lore, the temple ruins and aerological sites full of sacred spaces. Egyptian, Norse, Japanese, Cree, Irish…every culture in the world has their own stories to tell. So when I got the chance to be an early reader for Hades by Carly Spade, I brushed up on mythos and dived in.

  • Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️❤️❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Stephanie Costas is a digital forensics examiner for the Illinois State Police, but her keen eye isn’t her only skill. From a young age she’s been able to see auras, the colors that surround people. One day she’s dragged on a Greek vacation with her vivacious friend Sara who thinks they both deserve a break from the long hours at work. But when Stephanie sees the ruins and teal waters, she begins to think Sara might have been right about getting away…until a man at the bar with an aura like midnight fog makes her question everything.

Hades is like an aged whisky, sharp and heady with rich flavors and a lasting sweetness beneath the bite. He’s newly single and ready to mingle when it comes to the sweet brunette he met at the bar. But his life is complicated and he can’t keep Stephanie no matter how much he wishes he could.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and thought it was a fun spin on what might happen if Hades and Persephone ever called it quits. I was craving a bit more dark magic and drama with the king of the underworld from page one, and the fact he initially had a southern American accent really surprised me. Still, at times he was like Lucifer Morningstar’s cousin and had some great, teasing one liners to throw Stephanie’s way.

Stephanie’s friendship with Sara was also so much fun. Sara wasn’t privy to all the facts about the handsome stranger Stephanie met in Greece, but her reactions to everything were perfect. And don’t get me started on Zeus, the horniest, nosiest, King of the Gods. The cast was amazing and I was really rooting for Hades and Stephanie.

This book is a must for readers who enjoy a little twist, and a lot of humor, in their retellings.

book review

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Young adult isn’t historically my thing, save for the “classics” like Twilight and The Hunger Games. But To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix caught my attention. I watched and found it cute, funny, and the kind of predictable that made it a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Then, after spotting all three books in the series by Jenny Han, I saw it as a sign and bought all three. Now, I’d like to chat about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

  • Genre: Ya Romance
  • Heat Level: ❤️
  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Lara Jean Song Covey is a high school junior with her head in the clouds. Her older sister Margot is off to Scotland for college while her younger sister Kitty is driving her crazy. Lara Jean is quiet and romantic, someone who cries at sad movies and pours her feelings into baking…and letters. Every time she had a crush on a boy and wanted to get over them, she’d write them a love letter and tuck each one in a hat box to never see the light of day. All is well until the letters are sent, and the boys come looking for answers.

Of all the letters that got sent, two are the most problematic. One went to her childhood friend Peter Kavinsky, who is dating her former BFF Gen, and her sister Margot’s ex boyfriend Josh Sanderson. When Josh asks Lara Jean about the letter, she panics and says she’s not into him anymore because she has a boyfriend…Peter. Before she can get her story strait, she and Peter enter into a literal contract to be in a fake relationship. She’ll date him to make Gen jealous and he’ll keep Josh off her back.

As time goes on and Lara Jean and Peter play #relationshipgoals to their peers, the line between reality and pretend becomes blurred. Holding hands in the hallway becomes comforting rather than a way to show off. His notes in class become less about making Gen jealous and more about getting to know Lara Jean. But the contract and real life looms overhead, leaving little room for anything more.

You guys, this book was cute. I know not every character was perfect, but neither are people. Peter was a total jerk at times, but was also more sensitive and thoughtful than you would think. Lara Jean could never verbalize what she wanted, but she was fiercely loyal to her family and had the sort of kindness we look for in others. The growth of their relationship was adorable, the kind of slow burn that was easy to feel as you read. It reminded me of old high school relationships and the bumpy roads they’d take.

Another interesting thing Jenny Han did with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was inserting the sorts of problems only faced by Asian Americans. For example, Lara Jean had a rule where she would only dress up as an Asian character on Halloween so no one would guess if she was a Manga character. It was small moments like those that were really poignant to me. Lara Jean wasn’t just a high school girl, she was a biracial high school girl with sets of problems not seen in other YA books with caucasian leads.

Overall, I loved the book and honestly devoured the others in rapid succession. It’s really fun for all ages and was a charming, light read. PS. If you’ve already watched the movie, don’t worry, you’ll still enjoy the book.

book review, New Book

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Hunger Games is a comfort read/watch for me. I really loved the apocalyptic setup author Suzanne Collins created. So when The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes came out, I snagged my copy right away.

Overall Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers

Coriolanus Snow was born in the Capital of Panem to an old Capital family. He had the name and the prestigious penthouse to ensure all doors were open for him. But his parents are dead, leaving him and his elder cousin Tigress to care for their ailing grandmother and make sure no one knows how impoverished the once noble Snows have become.

As the 10th annual Hunger Games draw bear Coriolanus and his classmates are giving the chance to mentor a tribute. He’s given the girl from District 12, a slight against him, as it’s the poorest and weakest district. But his tribute Lucy Gray Baird is a born performer, and soon captures the heart of the capital.

While preparing for the games, Coriolanus and Lucy Gray find they have more in common than they knew, and soon they’re falling fast. From snake bites to escape plans, Coriolanus must decide if he should take of the mantle of the Capital or throw it all away in the search for love.

When I first heard about this book, I was skeptical. We know Coriolanus Snow as a villain, a sickly, evil poison or without a good bone in his body. Collins promised us a new look at the president, one that would make us think differently. I found myself reading, looking for fault in the unsure, charismatic boy who worked day and night to keep the snow family in line with the rest of the capitals elite. I was even rooting for him to come out on top, some thing I didn’t think I would do.

I was completely ready to adore this book, even though some parts were slower than I would’ve liked. But the ending made it difficult for me to love it. It was sharp and sudden, leaving so many unanswered questions that made me close the book with frustration. I know not every book is tied up in a neat bow at the end, but I have to say that I was truly disappointed.

One thing that didn’t disappoint, was the look at the formation of the capital, the way the districts interacted, and the lives of every day citizens. Before, we only knew what Katniss, an uneducated girl from District 12 knew. But Coriolanus was the son of a war hero, a scholar, someone who had an idea of how the larger world worked. Getting the extra locks into peace keepers and what led to the formation of the Hunger Games and beyond was really exciting.

Overall, I liked the book, but didn’t completely love it. Although, if Collins comes out with a new story set in Panam, I will be the first one in line to buy it.

book review

A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Hello Everyone! I’m here with my most recent read, A Criminal Magic.

Blurb: Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved
the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming.
Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers
funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret
performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take
a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an
offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang,
when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year
Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of
his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous
world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’
performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan
and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances
begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate
allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves
pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

I have always been a fan of mob related books. In a past life, I fully believe I was a mob boss. On top of that, I love fantasy. This book was perfect for me. Well, it was until the last four or five pages. Those let me down. If it had ended a little differently, I would have given this 6 glass slippers easily. However, because of the ending, I dropped it down to 4. But, let’s focus on the things that I liked.

Kelly does a great job describing the magic. In the book, Joan and her fellow sorcerers do these amazing illusions. They can make a stunning sunset appear before your eyes in a dark basement. Joan makes a dove appear out of swirling feathers. There are other tricks and I found each one more interesting than the next.

Also, Joan and Alex have an extremely dynamic relationship. They fit together perfectly and truly do bring out the best in the other. I enjoyed watching the relationship grow. I would recommend taking a look at this book- Sarah

New Book

A Good Man

I read author Rosanna Leo’s romance novel A Good Man, Handyman Book 1, when it first came out, but it’s been rereleased with some sizzling changes and a fabulous new cover.

He tears down walls for a living. She’ll tear down the ones around his heart.

Contractor Michael Zorn is one of the leading men on the successful home improvement show Handymen. He is also revered for an act of bravery he’d rather forget. The press may hound him, but all he really wants is to help couples realize their home renovation dreams.

One of these couples is Emily Daniels and her fiancé, Trent. When Emily inherits an old home in Toronto’s Little Italy, she sees it as the perfect location for her small business. The house needs a lot of work, but her appearance on the Handymen show means Michael and his contractor brothers will help her renovate at a reasonable cost.

When Michael and Emily meet, their chemistry is intense. Emily wants to stay true to Trent, but her fiancé has done nothing but disappoint her. Michael recognizes Trent for what he is—a cheater. And it isn’t long before he breaks Emily’s heart.

At first, Michael only intends to comfort Emily, but their friendship soon flares into passion. Unfortunately, Michael has secrets and wounds of his own, ones he has never trusted to another. Emily is determined to break down his walls, but can she trust her heart to a man who can’t trust himself?

Order your copy now HERE and see how one good man can make all the difference.

Book Lists

Kids, Race, and Reading

This year has been one of upheaval. There have been jobs lost, businesses closed, and kids confused about what’s happening. But there’s also been change. It’s been messy and painful, and it’s still ongoing, but the topic of racism is being discussed within the United States, and the world.

Kids understand more than we give them credit for sometimes. They often won’t recognize the names of murdered Black men and women that flash across the screens, but they feel the tension. They might not get why people walk down city streets with signs, but they understand that they haven’t seen something like that before. For Black families, race and racial injustices are a part of their daily conversations because they feel first hand the pain of racism and the fear of losing another friend, another family member, another community leader. But for white families, like mine, the conversation is just as vital.

My husband and daughter are part of the indigenous community, but I’m white and the color of their skin is considered “safe.” I never fear something happening to my daughter, but I don’t want her growing up blind to the world around her. Books are a helpful way to introduce topics to kids and start conversations they can more easily understand.

I have a short list of some books you may wish to add to your bookshelf to help begin or further the dialogue of what’s wrong, who is hurting, and how we can come together to make things right.

Something Happened in Our Town

Good for preschoolers up, this book was written by a team of psychologists who include helpful conversation starters for parents to help explore the topics of race and racism. It follows a Black and white family as they each discuss a Black man’s death at the hands of the police.

Peaceful Fights for Equal Rights

This one explains ways to protest peacefully and raise awareness like donating money or time and making signs for protests. It’s a simple way to explain how small acts can help to make a big difference.

We’re Different, We’re the same

Using characters kids already know can be helpful in beginning a gentle dialogue at a young age. This book shows how we’re all born different, but that doesn’t mean we should be treated differently.

A is for Activist

This rhyming book is a different spin on the usual ABCs. Important topics replace the fluffy animals and the message is gentle enough for basically all ages.

Momma, Did You Hear the News?

This one follows a young, Black boy as his parents explain police brutality to him. It’s educational and lays out how some communities have a rightful mistrust of the police. It’s a good basis for explaining how something like a simple traffic stop isn’t simple to everyone.

A Kids Book About Racism

A simple title for simple facts. This book isn’t a colorful story using animals instead of people to get a message across, but clearly lays out what racism is and how to confront it.


Brief list, I know, but falling through the book rabbit hope to discover books that are right for your families and your kids is part of the conversation. Have you incorporated books like these into your personal library? Let me know, and please comment is you have any you found particularly helpful.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and best wishes to you and yours.