The Christmas Keeper by Jenn McKinlay

5 STARS!

Release Date: October 29, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

SYNOPSIS

All he wants for Christmas…

The second Joaquin Solis saw Savannah Wilson, he knew she was destined to be his wife. Unfortunately, Savannah’s sights are set on a happily-ever-after of another kind: skewering the boss who got her fired. Until then, she won’t act on the scorching sexual chemistry that is brewing between them, leaving Joaquin scrambling to find a way to capture her heart.

When the opportunity arises to use his ranch to boost Savannah’s publicity career, Joaquin doesn’t hesitate to invite her into his world at Shadow Pines and woo her with all of his Christmas loving mojo. It’s a gamble since the holidays aren’t really Savannah’s thing and helping her might also mean losing her as she plans to shake the dust off of their quaint town in North Carolina and head back to New York City the first chance she gets.

But Joaquin believes in the magic of Christmas and he knows with a little help from his friends at the Happily Ever After Bookstore, he can convince the woman of his dreams that he’s a keeper… 

REVIEW

Okay, I LOVED The Good Ones, which is the first book in this series. I was so excited for this one! I kind of wanted to smack Savannah, but the tension was good at times. A lot happens in this book and I am here for it! I also love that the romance bookstore is a big part of this one, just like the first book. Weaving in romance writers is just so genius, and really makes me feel connected to the entire story. PLUS, this one takes place at Christmas, which just adds more warm and fuzzy feelings to Savannah and Joaquin’s journey to each other. Ineed all my fellow romance readers to go read this series!

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Check out my review for book 1 in the Happily Ever After Series here!


The Christmas Keeper Excerpt

Savannah slipped into the elf costume and was surprised and delighted to find that the dress actually had pockets. So that was something. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror. It was not good. 

The striped stockings were not flattering, and the length of the dress on her tall frame made it a mini-dress. She cinched the wide black belt in a desperate attempt to show she had a waistline but the Peter Pan collar still made her look like a doofus. To top it all off, her pointy hat had a jingle bell on the end of it and it rang with every step she took. Ridiculous. 

She stomped out of the bathroom and through the office. Whose idea was this Santa-and-elf thing? Shouldn’t they have run it by her? 

She found Maisy and “Santa” on the front porch. He was leaning over the railing and waving at cars that drove by and calling, “Ho ho ho.” 

Savannah glowered at Maisy. 

“Oh, you look so cute,” Maisy cried. Joaquin turned around and took in the sight of Savannah. The grin beneath his bushy white beard was wide. 

“Don’t!” She pointed at him. “If anyone is laughing at anyone, I’m laughing at you because you’re wearing a fake beard and a belly pillow.” 

“Better than fake ears,” he said. He lifted a white-gloved finger and poked the pointy ear sewn into her hat. She smacked his hand away. 

“Stop that,” she said. She turned to Maisy. “You owe me so huge for this.” 

“No doubt,” Maisy said. “This is definitely above and beyond, especially for someone as ambivalent about the holidays as you. I really appreciate your digging deep and taking one for the team.” 

“Come on,” Joaquin said. “Let’s go out to the street and see if we can wave people in.” 

Maisy handed Savy a cloth sack full of candy canes. “Have fun!” 

“What? No!” Savannah protested. It was bad enough people coming to the shop might see her but if they stood on the street everyone would see her in this ridiculous getup. 

“What’s your elf name?” Joaquin asked as he walked 

“I don’t have an elf name,” she snapped. 

“Then let’s make one,” he said. “How about Snickerdoodle Jingle Bells?” 

“No.”

“Ginger McSnowball.”

“No.” She gave him a grumpy look to mask the laugh that almost escaped.

“I know.” He snapped his gloved fingers but no sound came out. “Mistletoe Merrybottom.”

“Shut up.” This time a snort escaped and he grinned at her. She ignored him. “You can call me Elf. It’s a nice gender-neutral name that’s easy to remember.” 

“Boring.” He rolled his eyes but he didn’t argue. He continued down the walkway then  began to walk toward the center of town. Savy hurried to catch up to him. 

“What are you doing?” she asked. 

“Going where there’s more foot traffic,” he said. “We need to be on the corner to direct shoppers toward the bookstore.” 

Savy was not having it. She stopped walking. It took Joaquin a couple of paces to realize she wasn’t behind him. He paused and looked back at her. 

“Problem?” 

“I am not going to stand in the center of town dressed like an elf,” she said. “Public humiliation was not a part of the bargain when I came to help Maisy out.” 

He studied her for a moment. He looked as if he was undecided as to what to say. Savy almost told him not to bother since there was nothing he could say that would change her mind. 

Finally, he just sighed and continued walking. “Suit yourself,” he said. “But since it’s going to take a Christmas miracle to save Maisy’s bookstore, I, for one, am willing to make an ass of myself if it helps her keep her shop.” 

Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose

3.5 STARS

Release Date: February 12, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

SYNOPSIS

There is a serial killer on the loose, preying on vulnerable women. The only identifiable mark the killer leaves are letters—sometimes one, sometimes two—all carved into the torsos of his victims. Together they spell “Sydney.”

When he grabs Daisy Dawson, he believes he has found his next victim. But despite her small stature, she fights back with an expertise that quickly frees her. Before fleeing the scene, Daisy also manages to grab what proves to be crucial evidence: a necklace from around the killer’s neck.

The necklace is more than a trivial item—it is a link to a cold case that Special Agent Gideon Reynolds has been tracking for seventeen years. With Daisy’s help, Gideon finally has the opportunity to get closer to the truth than ever before.

But they might not get the chance, as the serial killer has a new target: Gideon and Daisy. 

REVIEW

I had wanted to read this one before it even came out. It’s a engrossing romantic suspense and I enjoyed how the characters came together. Each had an interesting back story that added so much to the story. My problem is that they each have their own suspense plot, and when we get one solved around 80% I was ready to be done. For me, it felt like this book was just too long. This is totally a personal preference, so if you like a long book and a good romantic suspense, I really think you might enjoy this one!

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Hot to the Touch by Jaci Burton

5 Stars!

Release Date: May 7, 2019

Publisher: Berkley

SYNOPSIS

Firefighter Jackson Donovan doesn’t look back–as a rule. So when his past comes roaring back to life in the form of not-so-damsel-in-distress Becks Benning, the last thing he wants to do is relive old times.

No matter how tempting she makes it seem…

Now thanks to his two interfering brothers, Becks is living with them while she looks for a new place and tries to pick up the pieces of her tattoo business that went up in flames. Which means a grown up, smokin’ hot Becks is in his house, sharing meals, and digging up old wounds. And despite his better judgement, the more time he spends with this smart, artistic, incredible woman the more he wants her in his bed–and his future.

Becks always had it bad for Jackson. Unfortunately for her, not much has changed–he’s still honorable, hard-working, sexy as sin–and closed off. But there’s more than one way to get to a man’s heart and if Jackson doesn’t want to recall old memories, she’ll just have to help him make new ones. Because now that she’s found Jackson again, she’s not letting him go.

REVIEW

I AM HERE FOR IT!

Seriously, hot firefighting brothers that had a rough beginning in childhood, you are speaking my language. I love reading about characters that have struggled, but succeeded despite the odds. It is really interesting to see the struggle to connect as an adult, because of the lasting impact of childhood adversity. I think Jaci Burton did a wonderful job, showing this struggle in a realistic way. I really enjoy the dark parts of characters, especially when they embrace them and grow. The compassion of the characters in this story is so special. Becks is a little spitfire with her own strengths and insecurities. Jackson is avoiding his past, and we all know that won’t make it go away. This is a journey of healing and finding love, and I adored every second of it! I cannot wait for Rafe and Kal’s stories.

Thanks to the First to Read program for the eARC in exchange for a honest review.

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Want to see the cover reveal for Book 2!?

Releasing February 4, 2020!