Overdrive

Hello dear readers and thank you to Kelsey for hosting the Calhouns on your blog.

Juanita Kees at Count’s Kustoms

Hello dear readers and thank you to Kelsey for hosting the Calhouns on your blog.

The idea for Calhoun Customs Garage was born out of my love for NASCAR and programs like Counting Cars, Overhaulin’ and West Coast Customs. The people behind the scenes of these television shows are passionate about what they do. Often, the business is a family affair, like Orange County Choppers, for example. And, like the Teutul family,where there is passion there is bound to be drama, conflict and a romance or two.

The over-arching plot of the series is set around the importance of family. Marty Calhoun has Parkinson’s Disease and he knows he only has a small window in which to reunite his scattered family. Two of his sons, Chase and Carter have stayed in Bigfork, Montana while the other three have drifted away from the town. He’d like to have them all home again and settled before his time runs out.

Chase, being the eldest, is the first sibling I tackled in book 1, Overdrive. He’s a workaholic with no time to date, let alone fall in love. Ha! That’s what he thought 😊. Along comes Charlotte (Charlie) Jackson, outrunning her rebellious past and finding shelter in the attic above the garage. The two lovers take a bumpy ride together on the road to their happy-ever-after.

Goodreads reviewer, Isha, had this to say about Overdrive: “Steers full throttle through life, love and redemption to find a home within your heart. I hope you’ll fall in love with the men, women and children of Calhoun Customs Garage. 

I would recommend that the books are read in order of release as you will also meet Mason in book 1, and the lead up to his story in book 3, Burnout, is littered throughout the first two releases. Book 2, Fast Lane is due for release on July 23rd, 2019. Happy reading!

Excerpt:

Long eyelashes brushed her cheeks in sleep. Lips made for kissing parted on the soft rhythm of her breathing. She most definitely didn’t look like a criminal on the run. Just a tired young mother. An extraordinarily beautiful Sleeping Beauty like the one in the fairy tales his mom used to read to Grace. If he were that prince, he’d happily kiss her awake.

The baby let out a wail that killed any remotely romantic ideas forming in his mind. Green eyes fluttered open, muddled with sleep. She pushed herself up on her elbow and paused as if orientating herself to her surroundings before reaching for the bundle in the basket.

“Hey, baby. Is it feeding time already? Hush now.” She cuddled the baby to her, making cooing noises that made Chase wish he was the one she held in her arms.

He waited in the shadows until the baby had settled and the hum of infant noises and soothing lullabies filled the air. It reminded him of a long time ago when his mom’s soft singing had flowed through the attic space at night. There was something exceptionally beautiful about the bond between mother and baby, a sight he was more than happy to enjoy now that he knew he wasn’t imagining things. 

He let his words drift quietly into the almost-silence. “So that’s what happened to my chicken salad sandwich.”

With love comes a little overhauling …

Ex NASCAR race king, Marty Calhoun, has built a legacy for his family, and now it’s time to round them up and bring them home to claim it. Each of his five children have hearts in need of overhauling. They all have hard lessons to learn. The one thing Marty wants most is to see his children find happiness and love at Calhoun Customs Garage.

OVERDRIVE

Chase Calhoun has worked hard at making Calhoun Customs a world-wide sensation and keeping his father’s dream alive. He hasn’t had time to think about settling down, so he’s not expecting to find love or new life hiding in the attic of their garage among the ghosts of his family’s past.

Charlotte Jackson is on the run from a rebellious past, determined to prove she can be a good mom to three-month-old baby, Zoe. Tired of being delegated to the back office of the racing team her famous NASCAR family owns, she sets out to establish herself as a custom design artist. But she’s out of money, luck and time, and she can’t hide in the attic at Calhoun Customs forever.

While Chase slowly loses his heart to his refrigerator thief and the baby bundle asleep in his laundry basket, Charlotte learns that sometimes family is more than just blood and DNA.

DIGITAL:

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Did you know that Overdrive and many titles are available digitally from Tule’s own bookstore? Check it out!

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Finding love and hope in small towns with dark secrets …

Juanita escapes the real world by reading and writing romance novels with elements of suspense, Fantasy Paranormal and smalltown stories. Her romance novels star spirited heroines who give the hero a run for his money before giving in. She creates emotionally engaging worlds steeped in romance, suspense, mystery and intrigue, set in dusty, rural outback Australia and on the NASCAR racetracks of America. When she’s not writing, Juanita is mother to three grown boys and has a passion for fast cars and country living.

Juanita loves to hear from fans and would love for you to share her writing journey:

On the Web

http://www.juanitakees.com

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/juanitakees

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/juanitakeesauthor

BookBub:

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/juanita-kees

 

 

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Match-Made Christmas

The 4th of July isn’t the only holiday this month. Christmas just is just around the corner and author Daria White is making sure everyone has a happy holiday with her new book, Match Made Christmas.

From the outside, Adrienne has everything any woman could want. However, she knows what real happiness is, and it isn’t having a good job and a condominium. Traveling home to her small Texas town for a friend’s wedding, Adrienne is hit from all sides with the happiness she hasn’t found for herself—her long-married parents, her joyful sister and brother-in-law and their two children, and her childhood friends. They all think she has it all… all except one.

Trace has been a nemesis since grade school. Always ready with a quip and happy to squabble over even the smallest thing, Adrienne dreaded seeing him when she came back for the wedding. So why does it seem like Trace is the only one who really knows her, who sees her for who she is?

Losing his parents to a plane crash and his uncle to cancer, Trace is not too keen on losing anyone else close to him. If only she didn’t skip town after graduation. He didn’t have time to tell her how he felt. There was a reason behind all his teasing. He loved their banters. It meant spending time with her. He could hear her voice. Now she’s back, but her leaving is inevitable. He’d have to risk his heart by asking her to stay. He can’t take another loss.

Working to save their friends’ wedding brings Adrienne and Trace together. The clock is ticking, and it’s the worst blizzard Lakeshore, Texas has seen in years. Will these two match their friends or end up matched themselves?


Daria White was also kind enough to share a brief expert, just to give you a taste of her work…

Adrienne drummed her fingers against her writing desk, willing time to slow down. Today marked her last day to spend in Los Angeles, her adopted home. It was the last day to enjoy the serenity of her quiet author’s life before going home to… Lakeshore, Texas. 

She recalled Milly’s Coffee House, with colorful and welcoming displays in the storefront windows. Lakeshore’s streetlights and single-lane traffic with faded pavement markings filled her mind, and she faintly heard the chimes ringing as the doors would open. She couldn’t walk down the tree-lined sidewalk without someone waving, despite the uneven ground when walking over cracked pavement. How did she define her hometown? Fresh flowers and sunshine, especially in the spring and summer.

How long did she avoid going home? Too long, as her mother loved telling her. Then again, could anyone blame her? Her last memory of Lakeshore… not a pleasant one, but still she missed it. 

I really don’t want to go back… Stop it. She admonished herself, knowing she couldn’t miss her best friend’s wedding. Paige would never forgive her. Still, it wouldn’t be easy going home. 

Her cell rang. Speak of the devil.

“Hi Paige,” Adrienne greeted.                                                             

“Please tell me you’ll be here this weekend,” her best friend pleaded.

“I promised you already,” she assured her. “Are you okay? Do you need chocolate?”

Paige moaned. “Why Adrienne? You know I’m trying to lose these last five pounds. Chocolate is not part of my diet.”

Adrienne giggled. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to put the idea in your head. Why did you go on a diet again? You look amazing.”

“I want everything to be perfect.”

Adrienne smiled to herself. Paige’s perfectionism could be both a blessing and a curse. She could hear the stress brimming in her friend’s voice.

 “Calm down,” she coaxed. “By this time next year, you and Eric will be married.”

Her friend agreed. “Yeah, he’s great.”

“There you go, focus on that and everything will work itself out.”

“How do you always know what to say to calm me down?” Paige said.

Adrienne chuckled. “You’re my best friend, remember? At least for now. That’ll probably change after the wedding.”

“Don’t say that,” Paige objected. “You will always be my best friend. You’re more like a sister to me.”

Adrienne pressed her lips together, embarrassed at letting her insecurity show. “You’re a sister to me too,” she said, but the comment already left her lips. 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” Paige asked. “You know with… Trace—”

“I’m not even thinking about him,” Adrienne cut in, hoping to staunch any talk of her childhood enemy. Well, not quite an enemy. She and Trace never had a conversation without arguing at some point. “It’s been years and I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure it won’t be awkward?”

“It won’t. We’re both grown and I’m not going to have any problems at your wedding.”

“I don’t understand why you two never hooked up,” Paige pointed out to her.

Adrienne choked. “What!”

“Yeah, I always thought you two would finally realize how you feel.”

“That will not happen. There’s too much history with us and we don’t know—I mean—I’m fine and when the right guy comes along, I’ll know.”

“Even if it’s Trace?”

Adrienne rolled her eyes. “Paige.”

She giggled. “Kidding.”

“Concentrate on you and Eric and the wedding of your dreams.”

“I know it will be fine, but the process is so overwhelming.”

“I’ll be there before you know it. We’ll get through it together like we always do,” she beamed, relieved the subject changed.

“Okay, I trust you. I can’t wait to see you.”

Adrienne replied, “Me too. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Love you, bestie.”

“Love you.” 

Adrienne ended the call, already regretting the days ahead. I haven’t seen Trace in years. Did he look the same? The Trace she remembered made her swoon with his scintillating smile, and…


  • To order this book, click HERE
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  • To listen to her podcast, click HERE

Daria White knew she wanted to be an author from a young age and published her first holiday-themed work in 2013. She never thought she could make a career out of publishing until her father pushed her to take a chance on her dream. Now she focuses on sweet romances, but has plans to expand to new genres for future pieces.

When not writing, she enjoys watching movies, cooking, strengthening her bond with God, and listening to music.

Secrets of a Highland Warrior

Hot Highlander alert! I’m always pumped to read a book based in my favorite country, so when Nicole Locke told me about Secrets of a Highland Warrior, I was totally on board.

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

The year is 1293 and Rory Lochmore is the son of the chief of Clan Lochmore. Their lands are separated from the McCrieff’s by a single stream, one too thin to keep them from constantly drawing their swords. Rory is eager to prove his worth yet again by claiming the land given to them by the king, but a pair of deep, green eyes catch him off guard. Yet he’s not one to be swayed by a pretty face, until he’s made an offer he can’t refuse.

Ailsa McCrieff is the healer for her clan and the daughter of the next chief. When her father inherits the title, he’ll also be inheriting generations of hatred between the McCrieffs and the Lochmores, but he has a plan to mend the strife…have Ailsa marry Rory. She’s horrified at the thought of being tied to a savage, despite his handsomeness, but she knows it could be the only way to save lives.

There’s nothing more then animosity and physical attraction between them, not a great start to a marriage. But the fates of both their clans rest on their shoulders and only a wedding will stop the bloodshed. Can they come together to make a true match, or are they doomed to lives of misery?

While this is book four in the Lochmore Legacy Series, it’s the only book I’ve read. While I did feel that I missed out on some backstory and a few tidbits what would have made reading much smoother, it wasn’t anything crazy. I would suggest starting with book one, as you should with all good series, but I enjoyed myself immensely, even by starting at the end.

Ailsa was a fantastic character. Her tongue was just as sharp as the shears she used for cutting herbs and she wasn’t one to be meek and obey. She’s really makes the marriage happen by seeing Rory see reason and I liked how she wasn’t just a swooning lass. Their relationship was also a pleasure to follow, as they went through not only newlywed growing pains, but found a way to trust that the other wouldn’t stab them in their sleep!

I also found the historical side to be very believable. If you’re not familiar with me, or the blog, you won’t know that I’m a historian and nothing ruins a historical book for me than blatant mess ups. For example, many people will write books set in Scotland and throw kilts around like confetti, despite using the wrong tartan or having the time period set before kilts were even a thing! It’s silly, but having Locke not throw Rory into a kilt was fabulous.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely and recommend it to all historical romance lovers.

Sweetpea

Craving something dreadfully dark and fearfully funny? I just finished Sweet Pea by C.J. Skuse.

  • Overall Rating: 6/6 Bloody Glass Slippers
  • Genre: Psychological Thriller/Comedy

There are few things in life Rhiannon truly loves. In no particular order, it’s her chihuahua Tink, her collection of Sylvanian families, and the feeling of blood on her hands. No, she doesn’t think she’s a complete psycho. After all, a Buzzfeed quiz said she doesn’t hit all the marks. Besides, is she really a psychopath when she only goes after sex offenders? It’s just community service.

On the outside, she lives a charmed life, despite the viral news story that shot her into fame as a child. She lives with her handy boyfriend in a nice apartment. Her job is good enough for someone without a fantastic education, and she gets on well with some of her coworkers. But when her mask slips and she forgets to pretend to be like them, more than one person becomes suspicious about who and what she really is.

Unlike when I write summaries for romances, this one was a little tricky. Rhiannon is a multilayered character who doesn’t always have a plan. She tells her own story through hilarious pop culture references with a matter of fact tone that makes it difficult to tell if she’s being serious. But Rhiannon doesn’t know how to be anything but.

Before reading the book, you think you’ll never side with a killer. But something about Rhiannon is charming and terribly likable. That’s what the experts say about psychos like Ted Bundy. Though if you ask Rhiannon, she’ll say she’s nothing like Bundy. She hasn’t been caught.

Time for me to start book two.

New Addition- Christmas is Coming in November

Kelsey and I have a big announcement to make! In November 2019, our newest book, Cupid Claus is set for release. It’s a lighthearted romance about what happens when Mrs. Claus, Cupid, and Mother Nature try to find a wife for Mrs. Claus’ son.

This is our second joint venture and it’s sure to put you in the holiday mood. What we love about this book is that it reaches out to the young lovers learning to trust each other, and their parents learning about love after child raising.

Remember…A book is better when you have someone to share it with

Love Sarah and Kelsey

Unlaced by the Highland Duke

I love all things Scottish. I love the history, the mystery, the architecture, all of it. But I also adore books set in Scotland, no matter the time period. But it’s been a long time since I read a historical romance set in the land of my ancestors, so I was eager to read Unlaced by the Highland Duke by Lara Temple.

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

Benneit’s wife Bella has been gone two years, leaving him to raise their young son Jamie alone. His wife’s family implores him to allow them to raise the child, but the Duke of Lochmore refuses time and time again. But he realizes that in his grief and loneliness, his son has suffered from a want of companionship on the estate. Enter his late wife’s widowed cousin Joane. The mousy woman has a tongue like a viper and for the first time in years, Benneit is on his toes…and likes it.

Joane, or Jo as she likes to be called, adores young Jamie at once and fosters his imagination. At first, she sees Benneit as a surly, brooding, gruff man who needs to be taken down a notch. Lucky for her, he’s amused by her quips and she begins to break through his hardened shell. Soon, she catches glimpses of the man behind the shield, the caring one with the deep laugh and soulful eyes. But she can’t let herself get too close before her heart gets broken.

Her sharp tongue and witty admonishments and his generous nature and secretive, boyish joy make Jo and Benneit toe the line of proprietary as their hearts take them in a direction neither intended. As the pair warms to one another on the cold Scottish hills, the woman Benneit is to marry comes into full focus. Lady Tessa checks all the boxes for an amenable wife, something that doesn’t escape Jo’s notice…or Benneit’s.

It’s so refreshing to fall into a fabulously done Scottish romance again. Temple really wove a tale of love, longing, and rolling hills to create a quintessential historical I didn’t want to put down. There was passion, emotion, and picturesque countryside between every page.

Jo was a lovely character who had her head on straight. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, even when she probably should keep quiet, but she isn’t obnoxious about it. Benneit had a lot of depth, more than you would think when you first meet him. They grow together, and it’s nice to see.

Overall, this book is perfect for all historical romance fans.

What Happens in the Highlands

Match made in heaven or maid of dishonor?

Tight-laced Rose Hensel arrives in Scotland for her best friend’s wedding with a plan—to be the greatest maid of honor ever, let loose for the first time in years, and find out what Scottish guys really wear under their kilts. After meeting the best man, she thinks she found the man who checks all the boxes for a no-strings-attached romp among the heather.
Lachlan Calder-Mackinnon knows how to show a girl a good time. Gourmet dinners in castle ruins, picnics among rolling hills, and a seaside escape create some unforgettable dates. But as the fling begins to morph into something more, an unexpected wedding guest threatens to ruin Rose and Lachlan’s new romance.
With a plane ticket in one hand and her broken heart in the other, Rose prepares to head home to reality. However, she’s about to learn that what happens in the Highlands doesn’t always stay there. 
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The Christmas Challenge

I’ve been getting into the world of Westerns lately, and was lucky that my introduction to it was through The Christmas Challenge, The Wilder Brothers Book 3, by Sinclair Jayne.

Heat Level:❤️❤️❤️

Genre: Western, Holiday Romance

Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Tucker goes back to the Triple T Ranch as little as possible. But when her twin sister plans her wedding for Christmas Eve, Tucker has no choice but to leave LA and head home to Marietta, Montana. She plans on being the perfect wedding helper and staying so far out of trouble, no one in town can even begin to gossip. However, she has a less than chaste background with the groom and when a hot cowboy comes within range of Tucker, she finds it hard to say no.

Laird has to Marietta with one goal in mind, to unlock the secrets of his past. He doesn’t expect Tucker to be the first person he meets. She’s a redhead with a bite and he’s drawn to her like no other. But she’s made a promise to herself to stay away from sex, so he makes due with coffee meetups and midnight ice skating.

Their secrets bind them together and they confide in one another with the knowledge that after the Christmas wedding, they’ll both go home. But midnight skating turns into all night talking and some chemistry no one can ignore.

Okay, I want to start with the chemistry between Tucker and Laird. The way they skimmed the unspoken line people do before falling into bed was electric. I just wanted to push them together and yell, “just get in bed!” But the slow burn between them was just another element I really enjoyed, and in retrospect, wouldn’t change a thing.

Tucker’s growth in the book was also very well done. She blew into Marietta as a headstrong, selfish, girl, but by the end, she certainly learned a few lessons on humility and patience. But her flaws made her human and the way she was able to self-reflect was fantastic.

Overall, The Christmas Challenge was a funny, sweet but sexy, holiday romance that made me want to put on my ice skates.

Bad to the Crone

I love all things witchy, so when the fabulously talented Meghan Kelly came to me with Bad to the Crone by Amanda M. Lee, I was sold. I’ve heard of the author, but this was my first work by her.

  • Heat Level:❤️
  • Genre: Paranormal, Cozy Mystery
  • Story Rating: 4/6 Glass Slippers
  • Narration Rating: 6/6 Glass Slippers

Scout’s origins are a mystery. After being left as a toddler at a fire station with no memory of her parents, she’s taken in and given a name. As she grew, it became apparent that she had a special set of gifts. She feels it’s her duty to use her powers for good and joins a biker club called the Spells Angels to fight evil. It means a nomadic lifestyle, loose roots, and the chance to find out where she came from.

When she rolls into Hawthorn Hollow, it’s quieter than she expected and Scout can’t imagine what dangers the small town could possibly hide. It’s so little, she doesn’t even need her bike to get around. But it turns out evil likes small and quiet, the kind of cozy places where neighbors trust one another and never lock their doors.

With a team of powerful witches, including a broody, handsome Gunner, Scout fights to keep her new post as monster-free as possible. But questions about her own past and getting to know the ins and outs of her new crew makes for a complicated time for our witchy heroine.

I wish the actual Spells Angels bikers played a bigger part in the book. It had great potential and I thought a witch on a motorcycle was such an awesome idea, but once she’s in Hawthorn Hollow, Scout’s biker crew is just, well, a crew. It would have made more sense to just make it a coven instead of build up the biker stuff in the beginning just for it to fall a little flat. Since this is a series, I’m hoping the next books have some serious Harley vibes.

Scout was a fun character and I really want to know the rest of her backstory. Strong female leads who don’t take any back talk are some of favorites and her sassy comebacks were always welcome. Perhaps Gunner might be strong enough to take her on, but who knows what their idea of romance would be! Knowing them, it’d be rounding up some varied and hitting the biker bar for some wings.

The narrator Kelly couldn’t disappoint me if she tried. This particular cast of characters was wild compared to the traditional romances of hers I’ve heard in the past. The range of her voice is always impressive. She’s gone from a sweet school teacher in the Midwest to a werewolf king to a strong biker witch and have none of them sound the same. I like to think I could identify each of the books she’s worked on with nothing more than a character clip! Maybe I’ll try that one time and put my possible skills to use.

Overall, Bad to the Crone was a fun, light listen that’s squeaky clean, making it safe for fans of all ages.

Irish Reads

Ireland is a colorful country with a history and culture that’s reflected in its art. The book are no different, and I just wanted to throw out a few of my favorite works by Irish authors. Some you’ve probably read, a few have movie deals, and others are hidden gems from the Emerald Isle.

The Wanderings of Oisín by W.B. Yeats is technically a book of poems. While I’m not a poetry expert, or normally even a fan, I really enjoy how he fleshed out Irish legends and think he did a marvelous job. For the full effect of his work, look up “The Stolen Child.” You’ll see what I mean.

You’ve probably seen Brooklyn, starting fabulous Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, but Brooklyn was a book first by Irish author Colm Tóibín. It’s a very moving piece of fiction about a young woman named Ellis who leaves Ireland for America and ends up straddling two worlds. It’s a book about tough decisions that belongs on any bookshelf.

Here’s another book turned movie where the book is better, in my opinion. PS. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern is about a widow named Holly, living in Dublin and grieving the premature loss of her husband. He left her a stack of letters to help her through life without him. It’s a tear-jerker for sure!

Seventeen year old Maggie was a steerage passenger on the Titanic who woke up in New York. She decides to never return to her native Ireland, or speak of her journey again. But secrets never stay that way forever in The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor.

How Many Miles to Babylon by Jennifer Johnston explores class differences in Ireland before the onset of WWI. An aristocrat and one of his laborers begin a friendship that follows them into the trenches. It’s a historical fiction of the highest caliber.

The Butterfly Cabinet by Bernie McGill is a novel that fits perfectly in the historical thriller section of any personal library. A mysterious death in Northern Ireland brings two women together, intertwining their lives for decades.

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes is a romantic comedy suitable for anyone who wants a light read. After visiting a psychic, Lucy thinks there might be love on the horizon, but life’s never that easy.

Here’s a dark comedy that takes place in Cork. There’s a wild cast of character in The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney that are brought together by an accidental crime that has unintended consequences.

That’s it for my short list! Have you read any of these books, or do you have any others to add? Let me know in the comments!