Rachel’s Dream by Lisa Jones Baker – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lisa will be awarding a $50 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Rachel Kauffman and Jarred Zimmerman seem to have nothing in common. She’s the outgoing youngest of a large, close-knit Amish clan, while Jarred is a young veterinarian who trusts the animals he heals far more than he trusts people. However, when Rachel’s horse falls ill, Jarred’s struggles to save him show Rachel he’s a man who cares deeply. And the respect he feels for her gentle warmhearted ways soon becomes an irresistible bond. When Rachel tries to help Jarred reunite with his parents, it’s an unexpected blessing..with one complication. If he takes this chance to put his past to rest, it could separate him and Rachel for good. Now, with prayer, love…and her hope chest’s small miracles, Jarred and Rachel must find the courage to reconcile their wishes into a joyous life together.

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He didn’t know Rachel well, but his instincts were usually right on target. His keen sense of reading people had kicked in at an early age. So had his lack of trust. By contrast, the Kauffman girl was unusually open and honest. Without a doubt, Rachel represented everything he’d yearned for growing up. When he was with her, an unprecedented sense of comfort and security filled his heart and soul.

But he had reciprocated her sentiment. And to his surprise, he’d confessed to her that his parents hadn’t raised him. It was the first time he’d ever told anyone, but she was a good listener, and the sad story of growing up without his own mom and dad was something he’d carried on his shoulders a long time.

He stood and paced to the living room to glance at the picture of his brother. At that moment, he knew to stay realistic about this sudden adoration for the beautiful Amish girl. Although she was of the Christian faith, the Amish way of life differed greatly from his own, so his feelings he had for Rachel could only lead to a dead-end street.

About the Author: Lisa Jones Baker is a multi-published author with Kensington Books. Her debut book of THE HOPE CHEST OF DREAMS series, REBECCA’S BOUQUET, won a Publishers Weekly starred review. A former teacher with a BA degree in French education, Lisa has been on 5 out of 7 continents, is a dog lover. She enjoys positive thinkers, volunteering in her church’s food pantry, and strong female characters.

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A Piece of My Heart by Sharon Sala – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Sharon Sala whose 4th book in her Blessings, Georgia series, A Piece of My Heart, will be released on May 2 by Sourcebooks. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a set of the series.

She’s never had a home
Growing up in a troubled foster home, Mercy Dane knew she could never rely on anyone but herself. She’s used to giving her all to people who don’t give her a second glance, so when she races to Blessings, Georgia, to save the life of an accident victim, she’s flabbergasted when the grateful town opens its arms to her. She never dreamed she’d ever find family or friends—or a man who looks at her as if she hung the stars.

Until she finds peace in his arms
Police Chief Lon Pittman is getting restless living in sleepy little Blessings. But the day Mercy Dane roars into his life on the back of a motorcycle, practically daring him to pull her over, he’s lost. There’s something about Mercy’s tough-yet-vulnerable spirit that calls to Lon, and he will do anything in his power to make her realize that home isn’t just where the heart is—home is where their heart is.

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Mercy watched one nurse rush out with the donated blood while another took the needle out of her arm. The panic of getting here was over. Whatever happened now was out of her hands, save for the silent prayer she’d said for the woman in need. She was about to get up when a nurse stopped her.

“Wait, honey. Not so fast,” she cautioned.

Mercy didn’t argue. The room had already begun to spin when she raised her head—a combination of too little sleep, an adrenaline crash, and a unit short of blood.

The nurse helped Mercy up and walked her out, talking as they went.

“I’m taking you to the waiting room to get juice and a sweet roll from one of the vending machines before I can let you leave. I don’t know if anyone told you, but the woman needing the donation is a nurse in this hospital. We are all so grateful you came when you got the call. None of this is standard donation procedure, so thank you for going above and beyond for her.”

“I am happy I was close enough to help,” Mercy said.

“You gave her a chance, which is more than she had before you showed up,” the nurse said.

Mercy was still shaky and wanting to sit down as they walked into the waiting room. But two men who were already there stood up and came toward her so fast she took a quick step back.

However, it was the cop standing behind them who caught her eye. She thought for a moment she was hallucinating, then saw the same look of shock on his face as the one she must be wearing. Her gut knotted.

“You! You disappeared seven years ago. I never thought I’d see you again,” he said.

She shrugged. “Seven years is a long time. Neither did I.” She wondered if he’d stayed to give her a ticket for speeding, and then decided she didn’t care.

The brothers began crowding around her, all trying to talk at once.

“Miss Dane, this is Jack Talbot and his brother, Duke. Hope is Jack’s wife, and it appears they’ve figured out who you are. Jack, this is Mercy Dane. She needs juice and a sweet roll from the vending machine.”

“I’ll get it,” he offered, and ran toward the machines at the far end of the room, and then yelled back at his brother to see if he had a debit card on him while the nurse seated Mercy and introduced her to the chief.

“Mercy, this is Chief Pittman. He helped pull Hope from the wreck.” Then she added, “Ideally, you need to sit at least thirty minutes after you’ve finished eating. An hour would be even better.”

Mercy nodded. “Yes, I will, and thank you.”

“Oh no, we’re the ones thanking you. God bless you, Mercy Dane. Have a safe trip home,” she said.

Lon was in shock. Seven years ago he’d spent a week looking for this woman. She was in his arms when he fell asleep, and when he woke she was gone. He’d never forgotten her or that night, and now, fate had brought her back into his world.

“So, Lucky, long time, no see,” he said softly.

She nodded.

“You are one hell of a rider,” he said.

Her eyes narrowed. “So, Chief, is that your way of saying I was speeding?”

She watched his eyes crinkling up at the corners as he smiled.

“Pretty much, but given the circumstances, I’m gonna let that slide. I stayed because I wanted to meet the donor who willingly interrupted her Christmas Day to save a stranger’s life. I didn’t know I was going to meet an old friend.”

“We’re not friends,” Mercy said, and then blinked as she realized that was what she said before, and added, “I don’t have family. Just a job. I was happy to do it.”

He heard a challenge in her claim…as if daring him to remark about her solitary life. But he wasn’t going to give her a moment of sympathy. “Yeah, same here. Cops and family aren’t necessarily synonymous. Most days I feel like my life is the job. At any rate, you are not what you seem, and I am impressed.”

About the Author: Sharon Sala is a long-time member of RWA, as well as a member of OKRWA. She has 100 plus books in print, published in five different genres – Romance, Young Adult, Western, Fiction, and Women’s Fiction. First published in 1991, she’s an eight-time RITA finalist, winner of the Janet Dailey Award, five-time Career Achievement winner from RT Magazine, five time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, and five time winner of the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence, winner of the Heart of Excellence Award, as well as winner of the Booksellers Best Award. In 2011 she was named RWA’s recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Her books are New York Times , USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly best-sellers. Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate.

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Why I Value Negative Criticism as a Writer by Kate Brandes – Guest Blog and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kate Brandes will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Why I Value Negative Criticism as a Writer

I’ve spent most of my career, not as a writer, but as an environmental scientist. I didn’t start writing creatively until I was in my mid-thirties. I’ve always loved stories about complicated families and relationships. When I learned about fracking through my environmental science career, one of my first thoughts was that it would make a great metaphor in a novel about a fractured family. So that’s how I began writing my first novel, The Promise of Pierson Orchard. It took me seven years from the time I started writing to get a publisher and I couldn’t have done it without a lot of negative criticism between then and now.

When I started writing, I had to learn to tell a story in the novel form. In order to do that, I asked for and received a lot of feedback from acquaintances, friends, other writers, and professional editors.

For me, especially in the beginning, the worst kind of feedback was, “Yes, this looks good. I just found a few typos and corrected those for you…”

When I was starting the novel, I was completely new to creative writing. I knew my writing needed more than just typo help. I truly wanted to get better and what I was really looking for was complete honesty, even if that was something like, “I understood nothing after page one and I don’t really know why.” That’s not great feedback because it’s not very useful in terms of where to go with it, but it was always better than a patronizing pat on the back or someone who didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

What I’ve learned over the years is that the quality of the feedback is often dependent on how much experience the reader has with writing. I’ve also learned over time to trust my gut. Often for me, I have to give critical feedback a week or more to stew before I know which advice to take and which to discard.

Giving honest critical feedback takes time and deep consideration from a good reviewer. I’ve never seen it as a personal attack, but instead a well-intentioned hand extended trying to show me the way.

In the novel, Green Energy arrives, offering the impoverished rural community of Minden, Pennsylvania, the dream of making more money from their land by leasing natural gas rights for drilling. But orchardist, Jack Pierson, fears his brother, Wade, who now works for Green Energy, has returned to town after a shame-filled twenty-year absence so desperate to be the hero that he’ll blind their hometown to the potential dangers. Jack also worries his brother will try to rekindle his relationship with LeeAnn, Jack’s wife, who’s recently left him. To protect his hometown and to fulfill a promise to himself, Jack seeks out his mother and environmental lawyer Stella Brantley, who abandoned Minden—and Jack and Wade–years ago.

When LeeAnn’s parents have good reason to lease their land, but their decision leads to tragedy, Jack must fight to find a common ground that will save his fractured family, their land, and the way of life they love.

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A brand new black pickup was parked between LeeAnn’s red Chevy and Jack’s old beater. A man stood beside it, with his hand raised in greeting, but he said nothing more. Coming from the bright light of the barn into the dusk prevented Jack from making out the man’s face. Jack stared in his direction. Some tug of memory caused him to hesitate. There was something familiar about the slight curl in his shoulders.

LeeAnn emerged from the edge of the orchard and the man turned at the sound of her boots on the gravel drive. “LeeAnn?” the man said.

She stopped. “Wade Pierson?” She hesitated a moment more and then walked slowly toward him. “Is it really you?”

There, right in front of him, was his brother. Wade. Back after twenty years. He was still alive, at least. Wade’s arms encircled LeeAnn.

Jack clenched his fists and went back into the barn. He offloaded the fruit from the wagon, bruising most of it. He washed apples with shaky hands and then crushed them for the cider press. LeeAnn and Wade came through the doorway.

“Jack, look who’s here.” Jack glanced up and then couldn’t take his eyes from his brother’s face for a long moment. He wasn’t a sixteen year-old kid anymore. He’d grown taller than Jack and filled out. Damn if he didn’t look even more like their dad now, with that same dark red hair and fair skin. That curl of the shoulder used to give Wade the look of someone unsure of whether he belonged. But now Wade stood there smiling, like he would be welcome. Like he could just show up after all this time with as much warning as he gave on the night he left.

About the Author: An environmental scientist with over 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental bent. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, the Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wildflowers.

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So Wrong It Must Be Right by Nicole Helm – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding digital copies of all books on tour to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

It’s all fun and games until fantasy gets real . . .

At twenty-seven, Dinah Gallagher thought she’d have it all figured out. Instead, she’s having mind-blowing online sex with a man she knows nothing about and fighting for her rightful place in the family business. Part of that battle means expanding their century-old restaurant by getting the stubborn urban farmer next door to sell them his lot.

But Carter Trask is tired of being pushed around—especially by rich families like the Gallaghers. All he has left is the little farm he’s scratched out of his grandmother’s yard. At least he can blow off steam with the anonymous woman he’s been emailing for the past eight months, who makes his every sexual fantasy come alive—even if it’s only online.

When Dinah suddenly realizes that Carter’s gardens look just like some of her mystery man’s photos, she can’t resist trying to turn her dreams into reality. Against his better judgment, Carter joins in the game. But in real life, passion has a way of becoming very complicated, very quickly. And sometimes the wrong choice can turn out to be oh so right . . .

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“You’re not still emailing with that guy!”

Dinah looked up from her phone and blinked at her cousin. It took a minute to get her bearings and remember that Kayla was waiting on her to get started.

“Actually I was reading up on Trask. I found an article that might explain his reluctance to sell.”

Kayla snatched Dinah’s phone away, then frowned at the screen. “It is sick that you get the same look on your face reading those pervy emails as you do reading stuff for work.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Dinah replied primly. Okay, maybe she did know what Kayla meant, and maybe it was a little sick, but Gallagher’s Tap Room was Dinah’s blood. The Gallagher family had moved to St. Louis over a century ago, and built a little pub on the very land beneath the concrete floor under her feet.

It was everything to her, and yeah, she got a little excited about that. Kayla gestured toward the back door and Dinah stood to follow. Meeting with Trask was going to be the moment she finally proved to Uncle Craig and the board she was ready to take over as director of operations.

Being Uncle Craig’s “special assistant” had turned out to mean little more than being his bitch, and while she’d worked to be the best damn bitch she could be, she was ready for tradition to take over. From the very beginning, the eldest Gallagher in every generation took over. These days, the title was director of operations, but it was all the same. And she was the eldest Gallagher of the eldest Gallagher.

She’d been told her whole life Gallagher’s would be hers when her father retired, or, as it turned out to be with Dad, abandoned everyone and everything in the pursuit of his midlife crisis.

It was time. Dinah was ready, and getting some crazy urban farmer to sell his land next to Gallagher’s for the expansion was going to be the final point in her favor. No one would be able to deny she was ready.

Director of operations was everything she’d been dreaming about since she was old enough to understand what the job required. Long after she’d understood what Gallagher’s meant to her family, and to her.

“So, you finally stopped emailing creepy Internet dude?”

Dinah walked with Kayla down the hallway to the back exit. “He’s not creepy.” The guy she’d randomly started emailing with, after she’d tipsily commented on his Tumblr page one night, wasn’t creepy. He was kind of amazing.

“Dinah.”

“I’m sorry. No way I’m giving that guy up. It’s some of the hottest sex I’ve ever had.”

Dinah thought wistfully about how he’d ended his last email. And when you’re at the point you don’t think you can come again, I’ll make sure that you do. It might be only through a computer, but it was far superior to anything any other guy had ever said to her.

“It’s fictional.”

“So?”

“He’s probably like a sixty-year-old perv. Or a woman, if he’s really as good as you say he is.”

“As you pointed out, it’s fictional. Who cares?”

About the Author: Nicole Helm grew up with her nose in a book and a dream of becoming a writer. Luckily, after a few failed career choices, a husband, and two kids, she got to pursue that dream. Nicole writes down-to-earth contemporary romance. From farmers to cowboys, midwest to the west, she writes stories about people finding themselves and finding love in the process. When she’s not writing, she spends her time dreaming about someday owning a barn. She lives with her husband and two young sons in Missouri. She is slightly (okay, totally) addicted to Twitter (@nicolethelm), the St. Louis Cardinals, and someday owning a barn.

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Toughest Cowboy in Texas by Carolyn Brown – Teaser and Giveaway


This post is a special teaser for Carolyn Brown‘s newest book Toughest Cowboy in Texas, which will release on May 31. This is the first book in her brand-new series Happy, Texas. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a print copy.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Carolyn Brown’s begins an all-new series of rugged cowboys.

“This is an emotional star-crossed lovers tale with tangible depths and an attitude that’s relatable to real life.” –RT Book Reviews

Last time Lila Harris was in Happy, Texas, she was actively earning her reputation as the resident wild child. Now, a little older and wiser, she’s back to run her mother’s café for the summer. Except something about this town has her itching to get a little reckless and rowdy, especially when she sees her old partner-in-crime, Brody Dawson. Their chemistry is just as hot as ever. But he’s still the town’s golden boy-and she’s still the wrong kind of girl.

Brody hasn’t had much time lately for anything other than ranching. Running the biggest spread in the county and taking care of his family more than keeps him busy. All that responsibility has him longing for the carefree days of high school—and Lila. She may have grown up, but he still sees that spark of mischief in her eyes. Now he’s dreaming about late-night skinny dipping and wondering how he can possibly resist the one woman he can never forget…

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She picked up her pace, but Brody matched his long strides with hers.

“Don’t feel like you have to walk me my vehicle. I’m a big girl and I’ve been takin’ care of myself for years.”

“You’ve always been able to take care of yourself, Lila, but I want to walk with you.” His hand went to her lower back.

The intense heat would probably leave an imprint on her back for days, but she didn’t argue or shrug his hand away.

When they reached her bright pink truck, he gave a low whistle. “Nice.”

She found her keys and touched a button that started the engine. “I left the motorcycle at home.”

“Oh, really?” His expression said that he didn’t believe her.

“Yep, I didn’t want to get to the bar and have helmet head.”

“Are you serious?”

“Why would you be so surprised? I am, after all, the resident wild child of Happy, Texas. I’m surprised there’s not a picture of me beside the city limits sign warning everyone to steer clear of that Lila Harris. If you rub shoulders with her, you get an instant ticket to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Just get ready for the ride.”

“Motorcycles are dangerous. You shouldn’t…”

She laid a finger over his lips. “When we were back in high school, I stayed on that bull for eight seconds and climbed to the top of the water tower. You didn’t fuss at me about those things, but wait—you were right there too. Well, darlin’, buy a Harley and we’ll terrorize Happy together.”

Brody stepped closer, penning her against the truck door. She put both hands on his chest with intentions of pushing him away, but she made the mistake of looking up into his eyes. Lashes slowly closed to rest on his cheek bones and she barely had time to moisten her lips before she was swept away by a scorching hot kiss.

She knew she should push him back, but instead her arms went around his neck and she touched his bottom lip with her tongue. He groaned and opened his mouth, deepening the kiss into fiery hot passion. She would have been there until daylight, but he finally stepped back, picked up her hand and kissed her palm twice.

“One kiss for the Lila I remember, and the other for the woman that she’s become. Both are very special.” Then Brody turned and disappeared into the darkness.

About the Author: Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author and RITA® Finalist who has sold more than 2.75 million books. She presently writes both women’s fiction and cowboy romance. She has also written historical single title, historical series, contemporary single title, and contemporary series. She lives in southern Oklahoma with her husband, a former English teacher, who is not allowed to read her books until they are published. They have three children and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

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Dating the Undead by Juliet Lyons – Spotlight and Giveaway

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Juliet Lyons who is celebrating the release of her debut paranormal romance Dating the Undead. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

WOMAN SEEKING VAMPIRE:
Likes to keep things casual
Absolutely no poetry
Zero romance required.

Silver Harris is over clingy men—maybe men altogether. But when she shares a toe-curling kiss with a sexy Irish vampire on New Year’s Eve, she wonders if maybe it’s human men she’s fed up with. Silver turns to the popular vampire dating site, V-Date, only to discover that vampire men are just as unimpressive as their mortal counterparts. And her mysterious hottie? He’s nowhere to be found.

Can’t a girl catch a break?

Logan Byrne can’t get that sassy redhead—or that kiss!—out of his head. When his boss assigns him to spy on V-Date, he meets Silver again. Turns out, the police are recruiting humans to snitch on vampires through the dating site. As the snark and sparks fly, feelings between Silver and Logan deepen. But, when old demons resurface—literally—Logan isn’t sure he can shield either of them from the dangers that have been lying in wait for centuries.

About the Author: JULIET LYONS is a paranormal romance author from the UK. She holds a degree in Spanish and Latin American studies and works part-time in a local primary school where she spends far too much time discussing Harry Potter. Since joining global storytelling site Wattpad in 2014, her work has received millions of hits online and gained a legion of fans from all over the world. When she is not writing, Juliet enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

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Claiming the Maverick’s Heart by Debra Holt – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen commenter will receive a $10 Amazon/BN GC. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

“He’s back.”

Words Macy Donovan hoped to never hear.

Trace Cartwright was the maverick rodeo cowboy who broke her heart, leaving her on the steps of the church on the eve of their wedding. Now he’s returned to build his home and to lay claim to her heart … again. Macy barely survived the broken heart the first time. Does he think he can walk back into her life and take up where he left off?

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Well, she was a take charge kinda gal now wasn’t she? The girl Trace Cartwright had left behind would have shrunk away into a dark corner to lick her wounds. But that’s not who she was anymore. Her eyes flew to the rearview mirror. Then her brain took over, and she spun the truck into a U-turn at the end of Main Street…good ting the sheriff was looking the other way. The element of surprise was on her side, and she would use it.

About the Author:Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers. Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most. She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).

When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure. She read her first romance…Janet Dailey’s Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs…to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.

She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at debraholtbooks@gmail.com.

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The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence by Alyssa Palombo – Spotlight

Long and Short Reviews welcomes Alyssa Palombo who is visiting with us today to celebrate the recent release of The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence.

A girl as beautiful as Simonetta Cattaneo never wants for marriage proposals in 15th Century Italy, but she jumps at the chance to marry Marco Vespucci. Marco is young, handsome and well-educated. Not to mention he is one of the powerful Medici family’s favored circle.

Even before her marriage with Marco is set, Simonetta is swept up into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers. The men of Florence—most notably the rakish Giuliano de’ Medici—become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her more desirable and fashionable still. But it is her acquaintance with a young painter, Sandro Botticelli, which strikes her heart most. Botticelli immediately invites Simonetta, newly proclaimed the most beautiful woman in Florence, to pose for him. As Simonetta learns to navigate her marriage, her place in Florentine society, and the politics of beauty and desire, she and Botticelli develop a passionate intimacy, one that leads to her immortalization in his masterpiece, The Birth of Venus.

Alyssa Palombo’s The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence vividly captures the dangerous allure of the artist and muse bond with candor and unforgettable passion.

About the Author: ALYSSA PALOMBO is also the author of The Violinist of Venice. She has published short fiction pieces in Black Lantern Magazine and The Great Lakes Review. She is a recent graduate of Canisius College with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. The Violinist of Venice is her first novel. She lives in Buffalo, New York.

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Lake of Destiny by Martina Boone – Spotlight and Giveaway


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Martina will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Helping her aunt organize a Beltane Festival in a picturesque Highland village seems like the perfect escape from Anna’s second broken engagement and the meltdown that wrecked her legal career. But to succeed, she’ll need to wrangle kilt-wearing villagers, dangerous sheep, a disaster of a dog, and the reclusive laird who refuses to open his property to the public for the ancient tradition of “Sighting.”

For centuries, Loch Fàil in Balwhither has been known to locals as a ‘thin’ place, one where the veil between worlds peels back on Beltane morning to reveal the face of a person’s one true love. The tradition could draw tourists by the busload, but that’s exactly what Connal MacGregor fears will expose the two secrets he’s been desperate to keep hidden.

As Anna struggles to mediate between the needs of the village and Connal’s need to protect his identity and his child, she finds herself falling in love with all of them: Connal and his daughter, the magical glen, the villagers. But day by day, opening herself to love exposes deep scars from Anna’s childhood, and confronting those wounds could finally set her free–or endanger her every chance of happiness.

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He’d stopped knocking by the time the glass slid down, but his fist still hovered in the air. Jaw slack, he gaped at her, blue eyes narrowed beneath wiry dark hair, as if she’d shocked him.

Anna felt just as stunned. With the sunset behind him, he shimmered, all gold and gleaming around the edges like a hopeful memory. The impression vanished the moment she blinked, but still he seemed familiar. So familiar that she knew his identity had to be tucked away in some dusty corner of her brain. Ah, there. The actor. The one her sister Katharine had dreamed of co-starring with someday—before he’d disappeared.

“You’re Gregor Mark,” she said, barely managing to keep the surprised squeak from her voice.

“The hell I am,” he bellowed in an accent decidedly more Scottish than Gregor Mark’s cut-glass British accent, “and what do you think you’re doing, driving like an idiot on this road? Or off the road, to be exact. I have my daughter in the car. You could have killed us both.”

Anna winced, both at the tone of his voice and at her own stupidity. “I’m sorry. It was the sheep—”

“The bloody sheep are part of the reason it’s daft to drive that fast through here.”

Daft? Hold on. Anna’s eyes slitted. She’d had enough of people telling her she was doing things wrong of late. Didn’t anyone think she knew when she was in trouble?

About the Author:

Martina Boone is the award-winning author of the romantic southern gothic Heirs of Watson Island series for young adults, including Compulsion (Oct ’14), Persuasion (Oct ’15), and Illusion (Oct ’16), from Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse, and heartwarming contemporary romances for adult readers beginning with Lake of Destiny. She’s also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a three-time Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers Site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a site dedicated to encouraging literacy and reader engagement through a celebration of series literature. She’s on the Board of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and runs the CompulsionForReading.com program to distribute books to underfunded schools and libraries.

She lives with her husband, children, Shetland sheepdog, and lopsided cat, and she enjoys writing romance set in the kinds of magical places she loves to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.

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PRAISE FOR MARTINA BOONE’S COMPULSION

“Skillfully blends rich magic and folklore with adventure, sweeping romance, and hidden treasure . . . An impressive start.” — Publisher’s Weekly

“Eight Beaufort is so swoon-worthy that it’s ridiculous. Move over Four, Eight is here to stay!” — RT Book Reviews, RT Editors Best Books of 2014

“Boone’s Southern Gothic certainly delivers a compelling mystery about feuding families and buried secrets, not to mention a steamy romance.” — Booklist

“Darkly romantic and steeped in Southern Gothic charm, you’ll be compelled to get lost in the Heirs of Watson Island series.” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout

“The perfect Southern family saga: charming and steamy on the surface, with cold-blooded secrets buried down deep. — Kendare Blake, NYT bestselling author of Three Dark Crowns and Anna Dressed in Blood

“A fresh twist on the Southern Gothic—haunting, atmospheric, and absorbing.” — Claudia Gray, New York Times bestselling author of A Thousand Pieces of You and the Evernight and Spellcaster series

“A stunningly magical debut with a delicious slow burn to be savored. I want to live in this story world!” — Wendy Higgins, NYT bestselling author of the Sweet Evil trilogy

“Beautifully written, with vivid characters, a generations-old feud, and romance that leaps off the page, this Southern ghost story left me lingering over every word, and yet wanting to race to the compelling finish. Martina Boone’s Compulsion is not to be missed.” — Megan Shepherd, NYT bestselling author of The Cage series and The Madman’s Daughter

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, or Kobo.

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Never Trust a Pirate by Valerie Bowman – Q&A


Long and Short Reviews welcomes back Valerie Bowman who is celebrating the release of her newest book Never Trust a Pirate. Valerie has agreed to answer a few questions.

Are there particular tropes you are fond of using?

My favorite trope is probably reunited lovers or old friends who fall in love. I love the brother’s best friend trope, too. I’ve used all of those and am currently writing a story where a married couple (who haven’t seen each other in ten years) are forced to work together again. Of course hijinx (and romance) will ensue!

What lead you to writing historical romances?

My love of reading them. I read them a lot as a teenager. They made me so happy.

What do you do to relax, after a day of writing?

My favorite way to relax is to take a nap. I should have been born in a country that embraces the concept of siesta. That’s where I belong. Ha!

How do you set your writing day in order to achieve your goal of a certain number of pages?

I don’t count pages so much as I count words. So if I have to get twenty thousand words (about ¼ of a novel) written in a weekend, I would need to write about 6,600 Friday night, 13,000 on Saturday, and 6,600 on Sunday. I have a day job so weekends are very important to me as far as hitting my word count goals.

Which Hollywood stars would you like to see as the main characters in NEVER TRUST A PIRATE?

I actually have a Pinterest board set up with my idea of who all the main characters in the Playful Brides series look like. For Cade Cavendish and Danielle LaCrosse it’s Chris Pine and Zooey Deschanel.

If you could change anything in your past, what would it be and why?

I would love to go back to my twenty-two year old self and tell her to start writing romance novels right away. Alas, I have no time machine. Frankly, I don’t think my twenty-two year old self had the confidence or the patience to do it. I think life unfolds the way it’s meant to in due time.

The rules of engagement were never so scandalous. . .

A rumored pirate and the scurrilous black sheep of his well-to- do family, Cade Cavendish relishes his world of rebellion, deception, and seduction. Nothing and no one can hold him to be the duty-bound, honorable man he is expected to be. But when an unexpected run-in at his twin brother’s estate with a ravishing, raven-haired maid leads her to believe he’s actually a viscount, Cade’s renegade life is thrown wildly off-kilter. And even though a case of mistaken identity can be quickly set to rights, matters of the heart are quite different…

Miss Danielle LaCrosse is startled to learn that the handsome gentleman who radiates sin and has the devil in his eyes is not her employer the Viscount, but rather his infamous brother. A former heiress, orphaned and left penniless, Danielle has more than a few secrets of her own. Cade may be skilled at coaxing even the most hidden desires out of Danielle but can he earn her trust—and win her heart—as they embark on an adventure to confront a dangerous enemy from both of their pasts . . . and uncover the identity of the so-called Black Fox along the way?

Never Trust a Pirate is part of the Regency-set Playful Brides series by Valerie Bowman.

Enjoy the first chapter

London Harbor, July 1817

Only three steps. Only three steps separated him from the map. It was there, laying on the rickety wooden table in the captain’s stateroom aboard a ship aptly named Le Secret Francais. The only sound in the cramped space was his own breathing. Sweat beaded on his brow. He’d come this far. Braved the murky, cold water, swam out to the ship moored at the London docks. Climbed aboard silent as a wraith, dressed all in black. Wrung out his clothing to keep it from dripping so there wouldn’t be a trail. Managed to steal into the captain’s quarters as the man slept, and now, now only three steps remained between him and the priceless map.

One water droplet fell to the wooden plank floor like a hammer against steel. The sound of his breath echoed to a crescendo. The blood pounding in his head became a distracting whirring noise.

One step forward. The ball of his foot ground onto the plank. Stealth and silence. Always. The calling cards of the best thief in London.

The captain stirred slightly in his bunk and began to snore.

He froze. One leather-clad foot arrested on the wooden plank. A pistol rested on two nails directly above the captain’s bunk. If the man awoke, he might shoot first at any noise. The captain well knew the value of the treasure he carried.

He counted to ten. Once. Twice. He had long since mastered the art of keeping footing on a ship. He waited until his heartbeats became steady again before taking the next step. A slight creak in the wood floor. A hint of movement from the captain. Another endless wait. Impatience was a roiling knot inside his belly.

Out of the shadows now, he stood only one step away from the table bolted to the floor. The moon shone through the window above the captain’s bed, shedding light on the man’s balding head. The map lay spread out, anchored by pins in the four corners. He would have to remove those pins. Ripping the paper would be too noisy.

Another interminable wait as the captain turned away from him in his sleep. His snores subsided.

He glanced over at the bunk. The pistol shone in the moonlight. One hard swallow. He never carried a pistol. Too loud. Pistols brought the crew, the wharf police, and anyone else interested in such activity. The only weapon he carried was a knife, tucked in the back of his breeches. A weapon of stealth.

Another count to ten before taking the final step. There was no time for an in-depth study of the map now, but a quick glance revealed the destination. The island of St. Helena, off the western coast of Africa, circled in bold scrawl. The map of the route planned for Bonaparte’s next escape. That bastard in the bed had been planning it.

All ten fingers itched to snatch the paper and run, but he forced himself to take a deep, silent breath. Carefully, he dislodged the first pin at the top right corner. It popped out easily. The top of the map rolled toward the center, making a slight flapping sound. Breath held, he glanced toward the captain again. No movement.

He stuck the pin back into the table to keep it from rolling, then his hand darted to the next pin at the bottom right corner. It also popped out easily. He quickly stuck it back into the wood. With two sides free, he carefully rolled the map toward the center. Reaching up to the top, he grasped the third pin. No movement. It was lodged deeply into the wood. Must pull harder. With one black-gloved hand, he clasped the pin between a thumb and two fingers, pulling upward with as much strength as he dared. His own breath in his ear was the only sound … that and the water lapping at the sides of the ship.

The pin finally gave way. He pressed a hand to the top of the map, to keep the freed top left corner from curling and making a noise. His chest and torso flattened against the map and the table, he pressed the third pin back into the wood.

Click. An unmistakable sound. One he had heard too often before. Another hard swallow. Damn it. He’d been so preoccupied with keeping quiet, he hadn’t realized the captain’s snores had subsided.

Half-splayed across the table, he contemplated his options. The door was ten paces to the left, the open window five paces to the right. Would he fit through the window? It’d be a hell of a time to learn the answer was no.

“Step away from zee map, if you don’t want a bullet through your back.” The captain’s voice was harsh and angry.

He slowly rose from his position hunched over the map, arms braced upright at right angles near his head to show the captain he had no weapon. “Ye wouldn’t shoot an unarmed man, now would ye, Cap’n?”

“I’d shoot a thief without thinking twice,” the captain replied with a sneer, nearly spitting the word thief.

He glanced down at the map. Studying it in case he was forced to leave without it. He had been in worse situations, more times than he could count. He considered the knife in the back of his breeches hidden beneath his shirt. It would be simple, easy and quick to snake it out and whip it into the bastard’s throat. But a voice in his head reminded him … justice must be served in proper course.

“Turn around,” the captain ordered. “Slowly.”

“Why?” he asked, trying to garner some precious time.

“Because I want to see zee face of zee man who would steal my secrets.”

He began his turn. Slowly. So slowly and so quietly that he could have sworn he heard a drop of sweat from his forehead hit the wooden plank of the floor. He finally stood facing the older man.

Êtes-vous le Renard Noir?” the captain asked.

Pourquoi veux tu savoir?”

Visible in the light of the moon, the captain narrowed his eyes. “Ah, perfect French? Why do I find zat difficult to believe from an obvious Englishman?”

“Obvious?”

“Who else would want zis map?”

His fingers ached to choke the bastard. He might not be able to kill him, but he could wound the scoundrel. Nothing wrong with a wound. He whipped his hand behind his back, grabbed the knife, and hurled it at the captain. It hit the arm that held the pistol. The captain howled. The pistol fired. Smoke filled the cabin with its acrid stench. He ripped the map and fourth pin from the table and ran to the door.

Steps sounded on the planks above the captain’s cabin. In the pitch black belowdecks, he forced himself to wait in the shadows under the stairs until the first group of rescuers filed down the steps into the captain’s cabin. He flattened the map’s scroll and folded it into a six-inch square.

“He’s escaped, you idiots! Find him before he jumps from the ship!” the captain yelled in French.

The group dutifully filed back up to spread across the decks. The captain came running out, clutching his injured arm, blood seeping between his fingers, crimson dripping down his nightshirt. He made his way up the stairs and ran off across the deck.
Springing from the shadows, he raced back into the empty cabin. He flew over to the window, said a brief prayer to fit through the tight space, hoisted up to the ledge, and pushed his upper body through. He ripped off his black tricorn, stuck the folded map to his head, and pulled down the hat as firmly as possible.

A rope swung outside the captain’s window two feet to the right. Thank God for small favors. He lunged at it and grabbed it. Noiselessly, he lowered himself down the rope, bracing both feet against the hull to rappel toward the water. Lowering quietly, he winked back at the figurehead of a saucy French woman carved beneath the captain’s cabin. As soon as he made it into the water, he let go of the rope and swam like a mackerel fleeing a shark toward the shore, careful to keep his head out of the foul-smelling drink. He counted on the black of night and the murky Thames to hide him from the searchers on the ship.
As he covered the distance between the French ship and the shore, he could hear the Frenchmen yelling and running about. He dared a glance back. Every lantern on the ship appeared to have been lit and the crew was scurrying about like a bevy of ants on an infiltrated hill.

He swam to the darkest spot on the far end of the docks, around the bend from sight of the French ship, and pulled himself ashore beneath a creaky dock using only his forearms. Exhausted, he rolled onto his back and lay breathing heavily in the pitch-black night. One hand went up to clap the top of his tricorn and a wide smile spread across his face.

He’d done it. He’d escaped from a French ship with the map detailing the planned route to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena. Of course he had. He was the Black Fox.

Copyright © 2017 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted with the permission of St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

About the Author:Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides series, starting with Secrets of a Wedding Night, Secrets of a Runaway Bride, and Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage.

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