Wednesday, February 10, 2016

TO THE STARS by Molly McAdams Release Week Blitz with #excerpt & #Giveaway

A Thatch Series Novel
by Molly McAdams

Available now at

In the second standalone book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Molly McAdams’ Thatch series, Knox Alexander must convince his long-time love Harlow Evans that they’re meant to be together.

He promised to wait for her.
She told him he was wasting his time.
Not waiting for him ended up being the biggest mistake of her life.

When they were younger, Knox Alexander swore to Harlow Evans that he would wait for her to turn eighteen so they could be together. But that was two and a half years away, and Harlow couldn’t ask him to give up all the fun and thrills of going away to college for her. As the years passed, Knox remained a constant in her life but when her eighteenth birthday came around, Harlow’s heart belonged to someone else.

Every day for the last four years, Harlow has been haunted by that fateful choice. And though he may appear unaffected by what happened in their past, Knox has always tried to fill the void Harlow left. But when he comes stumbling back into her life and refuses to leave, will Harlow finally let him into her heart…? 


“Relationship,” Knox huffed. “Low, I’ve told you, you could hardly call it that. Besides, I told her about you before whatever she and I were ever started,” he said. “It’s not my fault she thought I was joking.”
“Well, it’s kind of weird, don’t you think? Telling her, ‘hey, sure I’ll be your date for this group thing, but there’s this girl I’m waiting for, and she’s my priority’, seems like a way to say you don’t want to get too attached at the beginning.”
“But I told her,” he reasoned.
“You’re horrible.”
“Not horrible. I’m just in love with you, and I have a year and a half left until I can have you.”
I gripped at my warming chest and tried to ignore it as I sighed. “I’m going to stop answering your calls whenever you get a new girlfriend.”
“There won’t be a new one, and I know you wouldn’t.”
My eyebrows rose even though he couldn’t see me. “And how do you know that?”
“Because you love me too. Through all this bullshit, you love me, and you need these calls as bad as I do.”
“I do love you, Knox,” I whispered into the phone. It wasn’t the first time I’d told him, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. “I love you to the moon and back.” My eyes fell to my dresser where my monthly bouquet of red poppies sat. These had come just a few days ago. The card, as always, had read: I’m still waiting for you.
“To the moon?” A deep, husky laugh filled the other end of the phone. “The moon isn’t that far, Harlow.”
“Isn’t it?”
“No. Not far enough.” There were a few beats of silence before he confessed, “I want to love you to the stars.”
My mouth parted and a soft huff slipped past my lips. I closed my eyes and let his words replay in my mind and move through my body as I agreed, “Then to the stars.”


Molly grew up in California but now lives in the oh-so-amazing state of Texas with her husband, daughter, and fur babies. When she's not diving into the world of her characters, some of her hobbies include hiking, snowboarding, traveling, and long walks on the beach…which roughly translates to being a homebody with her hubby and dishing out movie quotes. She has a weakness for crude-humored movies and fried pickles, and loves curling up in a fluffy comforter during a thunderstorm ... or under one in a bathtub if there are tornadoes. That way she can pretend they aren't really happening.

And don’t miss the first book in the Thatch Series…

by Molly McAdams


Monday, February 8, 2016

Unwrapping a Minor Rant on MERCY STREET. Shouldn't art imitate life?

One of the reasons I so enjoy historical romance novels, as well as most historically based novels and film adaptations, is because I love history. Having grown up in Virginia, I was taught more than my share of Virginia history as well as US history. Why? Because living in Virginia is living in the footsteps of all who came before us and settled this great country. As Virginians, we are surrounded by history. It’s difficult to journey anywhere in the state where there isn’t a marker, historical monument, or museum extolling the history of the area going back to Jamestown. It’s Virginia and I love it.

Because of my love of history, and because I grew up just south of Washington, DC and Alexandria, when I heard about the production of MERCY STREET for PBS, I was very excited. I’ve seen the first three episodes with three more to go. This is not a review of the show but a commentary on some rather snarky remarks made in a review of this series. Prepare yourself for a minor rant…well, trying to keep minor.


Inspired by real people and events, Mercy Street goes beyond the front lines of the Civil War and into the chaotic world of the Mansion House Hospital in Union-occupied Alexandria, Virginia. , Mercy Street takes viewers beyond the battlefield and into the lives of Americans on the Civil War home front as they face the unprecedented challenges of one of the most turbulent times in our nation’s history. 

Set in Virginia in the spring of 1862, Mercy Street follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the conflict: Nurse Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a staunch New England abolitionist, and Emma Green (Hannah James), a naive young Confederate belle. The two collide at Mansion House, the Green family’s luxury hotel that has been taken over and transformed into a Union Army hospital in Alexandria, a border town between North and South and the longest Union occupied city of the war. Ruled under martial law, Alexandria served as the melting pot of the region: with soldiers, civilians, female volunteers, doctors, wounded fighting men from both sides, runaway slaves, prostitutes, speculators and spies.

The intersection of North and South within the confines of a small occupied town creates a rich world that is chaotic, conflicted, corrupt, dynamic and even hopeful — a cauldron within which these characters strive, fight, love, laugh, betray, sacrifice and, at times, act like scoundrels. This series is not about battles and glory; it’s about the drama and unexpected humor of everyday life behind the front lines of war. It’s a fresh twist on an iconic story, one that resonates with larger themes we still struggle with today.

~*~            ~*~               ~*~             ~*~

While reading a blog post at one of my favorite blogs, which will remain unnamed simply because I still like it and don’t want to get banned from it, I could not help but disagree with some of these particular ladies’ ideas regarding the series and in turn, historical romance.

The author of this review felt that MERCY STREET was ‘riddled with modern clichés, melodrama, and a bend-over-backwards attempt to show everyone involved in the Civil War as nuanced, complicated, and principled so as to result in none of the characters in the show being at all interesting or believable’.*

*This is not a direct quote, although close…as an editor, I can’t allow poor writing even to be quoted on my blog. J

Having watched the same shows as this reviewer had, who mind you normally keeps her reviews to costuming and not the overall production, I feel that her remarks are entirely too snarky. I thought about commenting on said blog but had I, I’m sure the reaction would not have been favorable. As I said, I’m a fan of the blog and so have no wish to alienate myself.

However, I took great issue with the statements in the review regarding the true history of the series. Seeing Union soldiers being anything but kind and considerate to the citizens of the city of Alexandria must most certainly be perpetuating a lie. The truth is that Union forces throughout the entire conflict held the city of Alexandria and that wasn’t just a few months, but years. The residents of the city were forced to live under martial law. Businesses were confiscated or shutdown if the owners refused to sign a pledge allegiance to the Union. Homes were confiscated and used for boarding troops, and there was no opportunity or remedy for refusal. Anyone caught doing anything the Union authorities thought unlawful could, and more times than not, be shot on sight. The Union were the victors of the War Between the States and so have been painted as the good guys in modern history books. Heaven knows that our Federal government would never allow such brash behavior to happen under its watch…now would it.

My greatest objection in this review was labeling the series as being riddled with modern clichés…in particular regarding the women in the series.

This review was critical of Mary Phinney for being portrayed as a wealthy widow, volunteer nurse, and a New England abolitionist. Well, the truth is that Mary Phinney was a real person in history. She was in fact a wealthy widow, her late husband being Baron Von Olnhausen…the characters make all kinds of snide remarks about it in the first episode. She was from New England, and she was very much an abolitionist. My question is why this reviewer felt that any of this was in anyway considered modern cliché. Are they implying that a wealthy woman, or any woman in the 19th century, who no longer had the protection of a husband, must quarter herself away from society and not put her talents, abilities, education, and intelligence to good use?

Their next snarky, and rather ignorant, remarks were thrown at the character of Anne Hastings. This character was not real but she was based on the real Anne Reading who was actually trained by Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War. The reviewer thought her having a sexual relationship with one of the doctors too cliché. It makes me wonder if these ladies think that just because a woman has a vocation and no husband that she wouldn't crave the company of a man.
Anne Hastings and Dr. Byron Hale in bed. *oh my!*
This is where the connection to historical romance novels comes into play.

When defending romance novels, I will hear from those who think of them as fluff, soft porn, and little stories written by silly women and that historical romances are fairy tales and not historically accurate. Reading something like this review lends me to believe that there are some people, who are truly ignorant of history. Are we to assume that there were no sexual relationships outside of marriage other than scandalous affairs and prostitution? That any respectable woman of society who had sex with a man who was not her husband was most likely raped because God forbid she couldn’t have actually desired it.

Are we also to assume that before the 1960’s, there was no pre-marital sex, no sex for widows, for women unhappily married to womanizing men, that there was no homosexual relationships, or as named as another cliché by this review…drug use. All of these things only came about after the so-called sexual revolution of the 20th century…and even at that, the latter part of the century because goodness knows, women certainly lived quiet celibate lives throughout the rest of it.

I told you this was rant. I object to people, men, and women pressing their politically correct versions of history onto every book, television, and movie production, which in turn, forces it on the rest of us. People have been people, human beings, sexual creatures, weak-willed, and unable to resist vices, emotional, dramatic, and just like the modern us throughout time eternity. Just because it’s not written that way in modern, politically correct history schoolbooks doesn’t mean that it was any different than it is now. The only difference is…we are supposed to be much more accepting of the nature of being human than they were in the last millennium.

What do you think? Is showing characters being human, submitting to their desires, their fears, their loneliness, and their vices simply cliché or is it just portraying real life as it was and is?

If you’ve seen the show, I’d love to know what you think about its accuracy. If not, I hope you’ll check it out. It’s really quite good.

Happy Reading Everyone!

MERCY STREET on PBS, Sunday nights at 10 PM. You can also see episodes at PBS online.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Unwrapping a Review of MERCURY STRIKING, a Scorpius Syndrome novel by Rebecca Zanetti

Before reading MERCURY STRIKING, book one in the Scorpius Syndrome series by Rebecca Zanetti, I had not read anything by this extraordinary author. I had several people recommend this book to me on Goodreads and so decided to look into it. After reading an excerpt, I was beyond intrigued and so requested a galley from the publisher at NetGalley. I’m so glad I got approved!

***eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unscripted review.


“Thrilling post-apocalyptic romance at its dark, sizzling best!”—Lara Adrian

"Nothing is easy or black or white in Zanetti's grim new reality, but hope is key, and I hope she writes faster!” —New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione

With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynne Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynne is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury…

Danger has never looked quite so delicious…

~*~                ~*~                ~*~             ~*~

Life is over as humans know it on planet Earth. A virulent bacterium has swept across the landscape killing most of the human population. Of those who have been infected and survived, they are changed…some for the better making them stronger, smarter, and who knows what else. But many others have been changed in a more evil sense of the word. Rippers, the survivors whose brains have been drained of sanity and empathy wander the earth in search of anything they can kill. But some Rippers are so intelligent, devious, and potentially evil that their insanity can pass as sanity...or so they think.

Lynne Harmony is Blue Heart…the former head of infectious diseases at the CDC and a survivor of the Scorpius bacterium only it left her heart glowing blue with the ink of a mutant squid. After escaping her CDC prison, she seeks the one man who might be strong enough, savvy enough, and tough enough to not only protect her from the enemy seeking her return to captivity, but also might be willing to kill someone for her—Jax Mercury. She knows he and the others won’t trust her, will be afraid of her, and she can't blame them but she might be able to give something in return…her intelligence and expertise pertaining to a possible cure for Scorpius.

Jax Mercury is a man who protects. He doesn’t have to be the ultimate leader and hero to the ragtag group of people who make up the Vanguard community under his protection but it’s who he is so when Lynne Harmony, a beautiful, intelligent, and extraordinary woman falls under his protection, he is determined to protect her. Learning to feel emotion, especially love, was not what he’d bargained for.

MERCURY STRIKING by Rebecca Zanetti is probably one of the best, if not the absolute best story, I’ve read in a long while. I’ve read some good books but this one kept me glued to my reader tighter than any have before. MERCURY STRIKING is Richard Matheson's I AM LEGEND meets The Walking Dead meets Typhoid Mary. It’s action-packed, edge of the seat gripping, sexy, and intelligently terrifying because it’s so real. This could actually happen and probably will someday.

The characters are rich, lifelike, and emotional even while tight-lipped and cautious. The secondary characters are as real as the main characters and we, as the reader, get caught up in their friendships even though they've been short-lived and superficial for the most part. When one of the main secondary characters dies, it tears at the heart and be prepared to cry. It truly made my chest hurt.

MERCURY STRIKING by Rebecca Zanetti might not be for everyone but if you love a good post-apocalyptic story and a heady romance with great heat, this story is for you and I highly, highly recommend you reading it. I was reading on a time crunch and still didn’t want it to end. I read the preview at the end for SHADOW FALLING, book two in the Scorpius Syndrome series and I am itching to get to it. September is to hell and gone a long way off, and I already want more of Vanguard and the amazing people who survive there.

Happy Reading Everyone!

MERCURY STRIKING, a Scorpius Syndrome novel by Rebecca Zanetti, Zebra Books, Kensington Publishing, available now in print and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and Kobobooks.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Unwrapping a Spotlight & 99¢ Pre-Order Sale for DEBT by Rachel Dunning #HOTcover

by Rachel Dunning

526 Pages Standalone Novel
New-Adult Romance / Sports Romance

Expected Release Date is March 30, 2016
99¢ Pre-Order Sale

The Debt Collector

I pay my debts, and I expect others to.
I was raised in the slums of London, I knew nothing of privilege. My father was murdered when I was seventeen. Morty figured my father's passing meant I would automatically take on dad's debts. I refused.
And I paid for that refusal.
So did my sister.
So now I fight. All I know how to do is fight. The best cash is in the states, so that's where I am now. A big fish called Vito came along offering me a "favor" when I arrived.
Another debt.
I paid for that one too.
I knew Kyla Hensley would be trouble when I met her. But I wanted her. I could see through the falsehood of her wannabe-slutty clothes and her sexy legs. So I chased her.
Besides, trouble is my middle name.

Kyla Hensley
I was brought up in privilege, but I lacked everything else. My father is a business tycoon who buys and sells and doesn't care who gets rolled over in the process.
I never knew my mother, and all I have of her is a photo with a note scrawled on the back in French saying "I'm sorry." The only Female Figure I had growing up is my dad's wife who is a bleach blond with seven boob jobs. We never bonded.
I drink. I party. I meet guys.
But I wasn't always like that.
I've had a string of lovers in the last few years, the worst and most recent of which was Vince Somerset. My best friend Vera was dating a guy called Rory Cansoom who is the opposite of Vince in so many ways, and yet so the same.
She and I hit the road for the summer, getting away from the two college psychos and just trying to have some fun.
But there's a funny thing about trouble, the more you run from it, the more it finds you.
Which is when I met the Debt Collector.
It was only supposed to be sex. He made that clear. I made that clear.
That's all it was supposed to be.
I never expected to fall in love. I never expected to fall so deeply, madly, uncomfortably in love with a man who is wrong, so wrong for me.
And unbelievably right.

Content Warning
Not intended for readers under the age of seventeen.


“Tell me for real,” I say. “Tell me what I didn’t guess about you.”
Logan doesn’t answer, and already I’m regretting the question. I know something hurt him, but who am I to ask him about it so soon? I’m breaking my rule, I want to know him, I want to know everything about him.
He shifts his arm so that my head is no longer resting on it, leans forward.
I did overstep it, but I don’t care. Maybe this is the last time I’ll ever see him again, and I want to get everything I can out of it, not only the sex I’ll demand later.
He looks down at his feet, then at me.
He inhales a deep breath, and then he says something to me that will forever change the way I think about the world. He tells me a story that puts my own life in perspective, and makes me question what I’ve held dear, and what’s really important in life.
He tells me about how he lost his father. And his mother.
And why he fights.
And why he continues to fight. And what he really sees when he’s in that cage, the hate, the fury, the pain.
By the end of it all, my world is shattered, the floor is shaking, I have no stability.
By the end of it, I know one thing, and I know it to my core, my very fiber. And I don’t care if it’s too soon, I believe in intuition, I believe in it more now than ever.
The thing I know is this:
I love this man. I love him irrevocably. I love him more than I’ve ever loved anyone.
And I know I will lose him.
I know it. More intuition.
But I love his very soul.

About the Author:
Rachel Dunning hit the scene in August 2013 and is the author of the highly praised Naive Mistakes Series, Truthful Lies Trilogy, Johnny Series and the paranormal romance series, Mind Games.

A prolific writer, she sticks to stories where Alpha Males aren’t pricks and where women have guts.

She’s lived on two different continents, speaks three different languages, and met the love of her life on the internet. In other words, romance is in her blood.

Sign up for Rachel’s Newsletter and never miss a release or a special.
You can sign up here:

Author Links:

“He is magnetic and an Alpha to his core.”
Lunaland Books
☆☆☆☆☆ Review

“I was sucked into this book from page one!
“The Debt Collector is sexy as sin and the ultimate Alpha male!!”
Alpha Book Club
☆☆☆☆☆ Review

Book Links:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Unwrapping a Review of MY LADY, MY LORD, a Twist novel by Katharine Ashe

I’ve been a fan of Katharine Ashe’s wonderful historical romances for a long time. I also know she’s always wanted to try something different…well, in MY LADY, MY LORD, she does just that.

***copy purchased for my own reading but sharing an honest and unscripted review.

Blurb for MY LADY, MY LORD:

Book #1 in a new series of historical romances...with a twist.

The Bluestocking
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.
The Rake
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.
Neighbors for years, they've been at each other's throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?

~*~             ~*~            ~*~           ~ * ~

Lady Corinna Mowbray and Lord Ian Chance have known each other since childhood, and not with a particularly friendly demeanor between them. Corinna’s pet name for Ian seems to be cretin and she cannot resist responding to him with cutting gibes no matter the conversation. She criticizes him for everything including his looks, and company he keeps. She might be willing to concede that Ian is handsome and wealthy but she also thinks him unintelligent, dissolute, and unworthy of her time or attention. In return, Ian thinks of Corinna as snobbish, cold, conceited, and self-centered with nothing but scorn for others. However, he seems to live for the chance to goad her.

Personally, methinks they both doth protest too much.

Katharine always surprises me and she certainly did with the twist in this story. There is no better way for someone to understand another person’s existence than to walk a mile in that person’s shoes. I won’t say anything more because I don’t want to spoil the story for you but it was truly well done even if possibly a more modern trope than usually used in a historical romance. But that being said, this story is worth reading, especially if you love the unusual when it comes to a more traditional genre of romance.

The banter between Corinna and Ian is wonderful. From a female point of view, Ian is definitely more interested than he puts on, giving over to that typical male pose of I’m going to make you want me just so I can tell you, no. After all, for him, every woman is worth conquering in bed…including Corinna. But Corinna is a stubborn one and so gives as good as she gets. She’s rather caustic at times and I had to admit to wanting to ask her to please give the guy a break. She comes very close to lowering herself to Ian’s level a few times slinging barbs in a most unladylike manner. I got a good laugh out of this several times. My favorite is at the beginning when he accuses her of actually wanting him to bed her. 

                          “I believe you have had a secret tendre for me all
                     these years. Haven’t you? Poor little Corrie. It would
                     explain your attitude of contempt, a contrivance to
                     protect your fragile self-esteem in the face of my
                     continual disinterest.”
    “My self-esteem is far from fragile, and actual contempt for you explains my attitude of contempt.”
    “I think not.”
    “Is that all you can say? You think not? Is that the extent of your ability to debate a position upon which you feel so fully secure?”
    His crystal blue eyes danced. “The only position I feel fully secure in, my dear, is atop a naked woman.”
    “You are disgusting,” she spat out.
    “And you are a cold fish.”
    “Ice queen.”
    Corinna’s head spun from the champagne. “I despise you,” she lashed out.
    “The feeling, my dear, is entirely mutual.”

Can it get any better or more sexually charged than that? But when a twist of fate, something magical, gives them each a taste of the other’s medicine, we see them both grow and become adults worthy of each other.

I do have to admit that at times, I got a bit confused about who was talking once the twist happens but I did enjoy myself, and Ian’s initial confusion was worth a good chuckle. This series sounds like fun!

I very much recommend MY LADY, MY LORD by Katharine Ashe simply because the twist in this story is so different from any historical romance I’ve seen yet. Plus…I like this kind of thing…only thing better would if they were time traveling.

Happy Reading Everyone!

MY LADY, MY LORD, a Twist novel by Katharine Ashe, Billet-Doux Books, available now in print and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobobooks. 


Friday, January 22, 2016

Happy Release Day to Tina Mrazik for ALL ACCESS: The Search for Paradise

The Search for Paradise

by Tina Mrazik

new from eXtasy Books

Paradise is not an easy thing to find…

If you’re like most fans of rock and roll, then you imagine the life of a rock star is all about easy fame and fortune, big money, all-night partying, and doing what you love most. The same goes for writers and film stars, right?

Well, the money is good, the parties are happening, and we are doing what we love more than anything in the world, but getting there isn’t as easy as you think. My name is Tina Marz, and while I’m searching for my paradise, life throws me a lot of curves and hard lessons in my search for my success. It is all about hard work, long hours, and just when I think paradise is within reach…maybe it’s not. Come join me on my journey to the top, and I’ll give you an all access look at the truth about life in the spotlight…my life.

~*~           ~*~           ~*~

About the Author:

Tina Mrazik was born in North Miami, Florida in 1963. Her father was a professional big-band drummer. Her mother was an executive housekeeper for a well-established hotel chain. Being an only child, she had the undivided attention of her parents and was exposed to music at an early age. Both her parents collected records. A combination of gospel, jazz, and modern pop gave Tina a love for all genres of music, though rock was definitely her favorite. She began playing guitar at the age of seven. In 1973 Tina began writing her own music. At the encouragement of her mother, and her love of words, Tina began writing poetry a year later. Within a span of ten years, Tina had assembled ten volumes of collected poetry works. Though they were of a dark nature, she developed her talent and own unique style for the ironic and melancholy. By her early twenties, her life took on numerous twists and turns, though she continued to write. Finding peace and solace in her words and the music she listened to, her writing flourished, becoming more contemporary and complex.

By the year 1995, Tina had written her first horror novel entitled C.H.R.I.S.T.  She continued with her novel writing and expanding her portfolio to the world of music magazines. Tina became a "features" writer for the music publications InTune, Vibrations, and The One Source. In 1997, she expanded her audience to the Internet by becoming a writer for selected websites, primarily in the arts & entertainment field with short stints into the religion and philosophy realm. Her work can be read currently on Google, Tumblr, and her Writer’s Page on Facebook.  Her latest work is the trilogy titled ALL ACCESS.  Its genre is Contemporary Fiction and is as she puts it, “A fictional autobiography.” She is currently expanding the ALL ACCESS brand by writing Part Four.

Happy Reading Everyone!

ALL ACCESS: The Search for Paradise by Tina Mrazik, eXtasy Books, available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble (February 15th), and Kobobooks (February 15th).

Monday, January 18, 2016

Unwrapping a Review of TUCKER, a Family Simon novel by Juliana Stone

I’ve been a fan of Juliana Stone since first reading her paranormal series, Jaguar Warriors and League of Guardians. When she turned to writing contemporary romance with the Barker Triplets, I was hesitant but she blew me out of the water with extraordinary characters and the most memorable book boyfriend ever in Shane Gallagher. I started to read her Bad Boys from Crystal Lake series but wasn’t too thrilled. I thought maybe she’d burned out after the exceptional writing she’d done with the Barker Triplets, but I don’t think so…

***copy purchased for my personal reading, but sharing an honest and unscripted review.

Blurb for TUCKER:

When all hope is gone, can love still find a way?

Tucker Simon has given up on love. After a tragedy, it’s just not in the cards for him, and he wishes his family would get off his back. He’s fine—or at least he thought he was–until a family wedding forces him to address a few things, namely his date, Abby Mathews. She’s been put in the ‘friend’ category, mostly because she deserves so much more than what he can give. But the more time that he spends with her, Tucker begins to think that maybe there is a chance for love after all…

Abby Mathews has been in love with Tucker Simon since he walked into her family’s bar nearly a year ago. But he’s got baggage and heartache a plenty. His one-night-stands aren't going to lessen that no matter what he thinks. Tucker needs a friend, but Abby wants to give him more, and as they navigate their way through a weekend in Florida, their attraction can’t be ignored. Abby has to make a choice. Does she cherish their friendship and take what she can get? Or does she go after what she really wants, which is Tucker’s heart… 

~*~            ~*~            ~*~             ~*~

We first met Tucker Simon through his older brother, when Beau was falling hard and fast for Betty Jo Barker in CONCEAL…if you haven’t read it…do! I knew then that Tucker was going to be a hard case when it came to love but I didn’t realize just how hard he was going to be about it, or how hard he was going to fall.

Tucker has loved and lost…his wife, Marley, was the one who had his heart only she’d gone missing when her plane went down on a wildlife rescue mission. Tucker was not about to suffer through anything like that again so he finds it easier to play the playboy…don’t get too attached and you have less to lose. His family isn’t going to let it go so easily though, especially his mom. His family wants to see him happy and in love but he knows that kind of love can never happen twice…or can it?

Abby Mathews has been in love with Tucker for as long as she can remember. She’s watched him with his one night girlfriends when he comes in but when he sits to talk over his beer, it’s to her…she’s the bartender at her family’s bar so she knows what’s what. When he comes in one particular evening looking rather down in the mouth, she inquires why. It seems he’s been invited to his cousin’s wedding and is not looking forward to the usual scrutiny, which will surely descend upon him, amidst the love and marriage effects of the wedding. She suggests he take her…as a friend. At first, he’s hesitant but then he reconsiders, after all Abby is much better company than any paid escort he had fleetingly considered. The question was…could they convince the family?

TUCKER is a story filled with angst on the part of Tucker…too much perhaps. His longing for Marley left me a bit on edge thinking any minute she was going to return since she'd never been legally declared dead, and throw a wrench in the works for Abby and I truly wanted Tucker to be with Abby. I wanted Tucker to be happy and Abby was the gal to do it for him. She is strong-willed yet patient, playful and teasing yet only uses it for good rather than evil. At times, some of the things she said struck me weird…such as referring to a certain body part as a thingy…she’s a grown woman, not a middle schooler. But overall, she was probably my favorite character in the book. I felt for her too often though while she waited for Tucker to get his head out of his you know where and realize it.

As much as I loved the Barker Triplet series, and expected as much from this spin-off as from that series, I wasn’t completely disappointed but I wasn’t as satisfied either. Juliana has always been great at creating her secondary characters but aside from Abby, I felt the secondary creations carried too much space in TUCKER. Too much information. It should have been more about Tucker and Abby. The editor in me wanted to revamp the story, build on Tucker opening his heart again with a bit more eagerness while cherishing his memories of Marley. It takes him a long time to admit even to himself that he has an attraction to Abby he can’t deny, and that wasn’t what I expected of Tucker. Abby wants more and if she hadn’t been so determined to win his heart, I think Tucker would’ve forever kept her in the friend zone

I also had to make the editor in me also had to shut up so I could finish reading because she kept pointing out the errors to me...a bit too much telling rather than showing...just saying. Sometimes, I just skim over those kinds of things and go for the gold…the love story, but it was a little harder to do with this one. The HEA was worth it tough.

It has some problems, it could’ve been better but I still think TUCKER by Juliana Stone is worth reading. The Simon family is complicated and as dysfunctional as any healthy family is in today’s world but Tucker’s banter with his family is always exceptional. Abby adds to it so wonderfully that she makes the book! I do have to agree with the perfect tagline for this book because it truly sums it up—Love will find a way…

Happy Reading Everyone!

TUCKER, a Family Simon novel by Juliana Stone, indie pub, available in print and ebook formats at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobobooks.

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