#Review and Playlist of Distracting the Duke (Wayward in Wessex #1) by Elizabeth Keysian w/a rafflecopter giveaway!

Distracting the Duke

by Elizabeth Keysian
Publication Date: February 20, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Historical Romance

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SYNOPSIS:

Devonshire, England, 1820

Determined to avoid the strife-filled marriage of his parents, Marcus, the Duke of Ulvercombe, wants an amenable, biddable wife, and has set his cap for a certain pretty miss. Unfortunately, her vastly opinionated, frustrating, and lamentably beautiful guardian, Lady Clara Tinniswood, keeps distracting him, tempting him to consider a far more tempestuous—and passionate—union.

Recently widowed Lady Clara Tinniswood wants only to organize a quiet new life for herself, beyond the control of any man. But one shockingly unguarded moment while confronted by Marcus’s gloriously naked body catapults her headlong into a forbidden passion and threatens to undermine all her well-laid plans.

Even if Marcus abandons his sweet ideal and surrenders to his growing desire for Clara, there’s one unalterable issue which could destroy their hopes forever…

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MUSIC PLAYLIST for DISRACTING THE DUKE with commentary by author Elizabeth Keysian

  1. 1. The Kiss by Trevor Jones from Last of the Mohicans movie soundtrack–  it floats me away and I travel back in time to the Eighteenth Century
  1. What a Beautiful Day by The Levellers– catchy and uplifting
  1. The Firth of Fifth by Genesis– just an amazing piano instrumental
  1. The Bells of Rhymney by Oysterband– stirs the blood
  1. Mr. Blue Sky by ELO– a cheering reminder of the fun parts of my teenage years!
  1. No Man’s Land by June Tabor– I can’t sing this without a catch in my throat and a tear in my eye. 
  1. Amoureuse by Kiki Dee– evokes the magic of “The First Time”
  1. Ramble On by Led Zeppelin– departure and loss
  1. Blowin’ Free by Wishbone Ash– poetic and atmospheric
  1. Thank You by Led Zeppelin– eternal love
  1. Lady Fantasy by Camel– love, magic and atmosphere- something every good HEA romance should have!

EXCERPT #2

 

Clara crept softly across the carpet of pine needles until she came to where a rivulet split the dunes on its way down to the sea, and halted. She caught sight of Ulvercombe standing at the water’s edge with his back to her, hands on his hips.

She stepped aside swiftly, her heart beating hard. She would have to hide behind one of the dunes to avoid being seen, if he should turn round. Fortunately, the tide was still some way out and he was thus a considerable distance away, giving her time to make her escape if he spotted her.

Plucking off the old shawl she was wearing, she spread it over the grass-matted dune, then lay down on her stomach so only her head—with the telescope pressed to her eye—might be seen. Hopefully, with the waving sea grasses fanning across in front of her, she was well-hidden from any casual observer.

Eventually, she managed to locate Ulvercombe with the glass, and when she did her mouth dropped open in shock. In the time she’d taken to settle herself, he’d stripped off boots, stockings, jacket, and breeches, and now stood in nothing but his shirt, looking out to sea.

Clearly, the man had every expectation of being alone, and had no idea he was being covertly observed. It was early in the morning, it was his beach, his pine forest, his sand. She should back away and return to the house as quickly as possible.

A small attempt to move was made, but then he pulled his shirt over his head and she was transfixed.

The muscles rippled across his shoulders and she recalled, far too quickly, the feel of that hot body pressed against hers.

“Drat it!” The glass lens against her face had misted.

Crossly, she rubbed it with a corner of her shawl, and scanned the beach again until she found the duke.

The completely naked duke.

Her breath hitched in her throat. “Sweet Lord in heaven…”

It was not the splendid symmetry of his body, nor the very pleasing curve of his buttocks, nor even the straightness and supple power of his legs that had elicited her exclamation of shock.

It was the scars.

She hadn’t seen the backs of his thighs when he’d disrobed that day in his bedchamber. Now she could see them very clearly, and she could also see a complex pattern of pale, crisscross lines etched across the skin. They were scars, surely?

Had he received them in battle or in some horrible accident? Had he been taken prisoner and tortured by the French? Maybe he’d been involved in a fire and something hot had branded him thus.

The chance to observe the marks more closely was abruptly removed as the duke, who had been walking straight out into the waves, suddenly dove in with a splash and began swimming out to sea with deft, powerful strokes.

She shuddered. The water must be absolutely freezing. How could he stand it?

“Good morning, Lady Tinniswood. A very fine one, is it not?”

And so my love affair with historicals now is still intact.  Every historical that I have read lately has been awesome.  And they have all been so different from each other, too.  I won’t go into why historicals are so much a hit and miss with me so I’ll just share with you why Clara and Marcus just rocked in my book.

  1.  Clara – I can’t even imagine what she went through with her first husband.  The abuse, the horror, and then finally the ultimate betrayal.  Again, I can’t even…but what I truly liked about her was the fact that she would actually admit it to Marcus.  Of course, she felt shame but when she realized that Marcus was nothing like her dead husband learned to trust him, it was golden.  She also stood up to him.  He wanted someone biddable but what he got was her.  Brilliant dialogue when they were together.
  2. Marcus – What a revelation.  He was kind, a little bit backhanded (in a good way) and once his heart was set on Clara, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.  I loved how he wound up testing her when it came to her fears but Ms. Keysian wrote it brilliantly.  Again, it is her dialogue between the characters that had me from the very first page.  Marcus had NO shame when it came to showing Clara his body.  The above scene had me giggling.  He never forgot that she was a widow but what he didn’t realize at the time was how traumatized she was from her first marriage.
  3. The smexy times are NOT plentiful but the build up is SO worth it.  Ms. Keysian had me fanning myself at times and that was before the dead was actually done.  Well played, well played.
  4. The secondary characters are wonderfully written.  I can’t wait to read about Ellie and Snetty.  Oh, my…If I had one complaint, I didn’t like Clara’s brother Phillip in the beginning.  He kinda came off as a shrew.  I understand the why but I still didn’t like him that much.
  5. The setting – I’m a sucker for England and especially the English countryside.  Like another English author I know, she knows what she writes about when it comes to the setting of the book.

Did I mention that not once, NOT ONCE in the book was bored with the ton.  This is a character driven novel about two people that shouldn’t fall in love with each but do.  The getting there is half the fun of the book and I have to say that I don’t even know what Clara wore in the book.  She had a bonnet, a shawl, and a thin summer cotton nightgown.  Why do I mention this?  Because I didn’t have to skip a bunch of paragraphs/pages with all the details that bore me to death.  Again, characters are key for me in a historical romance and Ms. Keysian wrote it that way.  Of course, I don’t think I’ll look at skinny dipping the same way again.

Do yourself a favor and buy this book.  Just for me, please.  You will not be disappointed at all.  It has all the romance of a historical, some family issues but now the filler that irritates so much.

 

ABOUT ELIZABETH KEYSIAN

Elizabeth Keysian felt destined to write historical romance due to her Cornish descent, and an ancestral connection to the Norse god Odin. Being an only child gave her plenty of time to read, create imaginary worlds, produce her own comics, and write sketches and a deplorably bad musical for an amateur dramatics group.

Three decades spent working in museums and archaeology fired Elizabeth’s urge to write, as did living on a Knights Templar estate, with a garage full of skeletons, a resident ghost and a moat teeming with newts.

Elizabeth lives near Bath in England with her partner and cats.

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#Review of Deep Down & Hollywood Honkytonk (Kings of California #1-2) by Mia Hopkins! w/a rafflecopter giveawy & playlist @MiaHopkinsxoxo

Hollywood Honkytonk

by Mia Hopkins
Kings of California, #2
Publication Date: January 13, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Erotic, Romance

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The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/2i9Olfh

Synopsis: With nothing but her dog, her guitar, and her cowboy boots, songwriter Riley Marion arrives in Los Angeles on the run from her abusive ex. A quiet job teaching music sounds perfect, but her low-key lifestyle is threatened when she reunites with a sexy old flame—now an up-and-coming celebrity who’s constantly dogged by paparazzi.

Charming and driven, Jack Lamont is a Hollywood actor on the rise to stardom. Ready to outgrow his playboy reputation, he’s happy to leave the hard partying to his entourage. Romantic entanglements? Jack’s not interested. At least, not until he gets tangled up with the one who got away—a smoking-hot woman whose memory has haunted him for the last ten years.

*AUTHOR’S NOTE* While this book is a part of a series, it can be read completely as a STANDALONE.

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Excerpt #3

“Stay.” His soft voice heated her blood.

Her willpower was taking a serious beating. Riley rubbed the worn-out brass key of her Datsun between her thumb and forefinger, wishing she could put this particular genie back in his bottle.

“Jack, listen. I have a favor to ask.”

“What do you need?”

What I need has nothing to do with what I want. “I’ve been thinking about what happened on the beach.”

“On the beach? When we…?”

“When we kissed. Made out. Almost…you know. It made me realize something.” She unclipped her seat belt and turned toward him. “I’m not ready.”

“Ready?”

“Ready…to take things further with you.” The words made her wither a little inside. Embarrassed, she didn’t know how to talk about sex. “I was married for a long time. And Tommy—he was my first. My only. There’s been no one since.”

Jack frowned. “Do you still have feelings for him?”

“No. Not at all. That’s done.” She licked her lips and looked up at him. “I know that since high school our lives took two very different paths. And I’m happy to be here with you, now. But, if it’s all the same to you, could we maybe”—she cleared her throat—“take things a little slower?”

Jack stared at her and said nothing.

Riley backpedaled, trying to make him understand. “I know, it’s a really old-fashioned thing to ask. If this doesn’t work out for you, I’ll be happy to be on my way. We can be friends. Grab a drink or two when you want to reminisce. No problem. I completely understand.”

His hands rested calmly on his knees, but his jaw tightened a little. “I think I get what you’re saying.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to—”

“Don’t want to what?”

“Jack.”

“Jesus Christ, Riley. We’re grown-ups. Say what you don’t want to do. I want to hear you say it.” Jack raised his eyebrows. “Go on.”

Riley fidgeted. “It’s not that I don’t want to…sleep with you.”

“So you do.”

“Do what?”

He grinned. “Want to sleep with me.”

“Stop putting words in my mouth.”

“Trust me, sweetheart.” His eyes crinkled up with silent laughter. “Words are not what I want to put in your mouth.”

She looked at him, and her jaw dropped open.

He started to laugh. “That doesn’t make things any better.”

Riley snapped her mouth closed and slapped his meaty shoulder with the back of her hand. “I’m baring my soul to you and you’re making fun of me. You big jerk.” She slapped his shoulder again.

“Ow! Okay, okay.” He held up his hands. “I couldn’t resist. I’m an asshole. Sorry. I’m sorry.” As she seethed at him, he reached forward and stroked her cheek with his fingertips. “Don’t be mad.” He took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. The gentle kiss calmed her. He did it again. When he did it a third time, the tension drained from her shoulders.

“Listen,” he said, “when you came back into my life, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think I would see you again, much less have a chance at spending time with you like this. Today was…for lack of a better word, today was fun. You’re fun to talk to. Smart. Passionate. It’s refreshing.”

In spite of her annoyance, Riley gave him a small smile. “I had fun too.”

“Then let’s keep it here for a while. I’m not in any rush.” He glanced up at her. “All right, that’s a bald-faced lie. I’ve been thinking about you all week.”

Her cheeks warmed up. “Really?”

He nodded. “Thinking about you. Fantasizing about you. Yeah. A lot, actually.” He ran his fingertip over her knuckles. “But that’s a conversation for another day, right?”

One more mischievous grin and he let go of her hand. Riley stared at him, wondering if she shouldn’t have shut her trap and jumped into bed with him like the wanton love goddess she wanted to be.

He walked her to her car and held the door open for her as she climbed inside. She cranked the window down and put the key in the ignition. Her crotchety old engine coughed to life.

Before she could drive away, Jack reached forward through the open window and took her face gently in his hands. Without a word, he kissed her—a deep kiss full of longing and sweetness. He slipped her a little tongue and she smiled, eyes closed, sparks falling like rain through her nervous system. Too soon, Jack let go and took a step back, his eyes locked on hers.

“Have a good week,” he said. “Call me.”

Okay, I have to admit that I read both books and will review them separately.  I also have to admit, that I liked this one better.  There is a sweetness to it.  The romance is there.  The trope, friends to lovers is there, too.  But what really sold me on the book were Riley and Jack.  These are the types of characters that I love in a contemporary romance.  They have a history with each other.  They are friends, first, and then they finally admitted their long held feelings for each other but it isn’t easy.  Oh yes, there are other forces they have to deal with.

Jack was introduced in Deep Down when he was a teenager.  I smirked when I read those pages because I couldn’t wait to read what the deal was with Jack and Riley.  I was not disappointed at all.   Jack and Riley had to work for their romance.  Miscommunication, stupid exes and the Hollywood scene don’t make it easy for them but they fight for what they want…each other.  I sighed and swooned throughout the book.  The length that Jack went through for Riley one time.  Oh my…best part of the book.

The secondary characters in the book are top notch.  The nuns are a hoot and I particularly liked how they were connected to Jack and Riley.  Jack’s friends were just okay and I would have liked to have gotten to know them a bit better.  Also, I felt like Ana, Jack’s assistant, could have been a great friend for Riley.  The pacing in this book is perfect.  Before long, it was over and I was sad.  I could have read about Jack and Riley like…forever.  Yes, forever.  I miss them.

Overall, I really, really liked this book.  The sexy times were great but not nearly has erotic as Deep Down.  In fact, I would have labeled this book spicy.  This story didn’t need the sex in it as much as Deep Down.  Again, there is a sweetness to this book that has stayed with me long after I read it.

CHECK OUT THE FIRST BOOK IN THE SCORCHING HOT KINGS OF CALIFORNIA SERIES!

DEEP DOWN

by Mia Hopkins
Kings of California, #1
Publication Date: November 20, 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

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Synopsis: Sex, drugs, and spicy tuna rolls?Resilient and disciplined, tsunami survivor Eve Ono moves to California from Japan looking for a position as a sushi chef. When she’s suddenly fired from her restaurant job, desperation drives her to find work on a fishing boat despite her fears of the ocean. To make matters worse, she’s stuck in close quarters with her new captain—a man whose raw physicality drives her out of her mind with lust.

Free-spirited and roguish, Sam Lamont is a commercial fisherman aboard his own dive boat, the Bravado. When he makes a bad deal with a deadly loan shark who threatens to take his boat, Sam is in danger of losing both his business and his way of life. On top of that, he’s got to train his new deckhand—a beautiful hard-ass who just so happens to be sexy as hell.

A female sushi chef with mad knife skills. A deep-sea diver who’s pissed off a Mexican drug cartel. Together, they’re in trouble, and the only way out is down.

*AUTHOR’S NOTE* While this book is a part of a series, it can be read completely as a STANDALONE.

Excerpt #2

A gust of wind blew sheets of rain against the side of the building.

“I’d like to make a push in the next few weeks,” said Sam. “Instead of three days a week, we’ll be doing four. It’s going to be nasty work. Do you think you’ll be up to it?”

“No problem. Whatever you need.”

Without thinking, Sam ran his fingers through her ponytail. Her hair was silky, heavy, and slightly damp from her shower. He stroked her hair for a few seconds before he realized what he was doing. At once, he withdrew his hand.

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice rough. “My mind was somewhere else.”

Her smile was gentle. “Don’t worry about it.” She stood up and stretched. “I’m gonna change and get out of here so you can get some sleep.”

“Hell no,” he said. “It’s pissing rain.”

“It’s not that bad―”

“No way. No how.”

“But―”

“Don’t make me use my captain voice on you,” he said. When she looked at him, something flashed in her eyes. Did she like it when he told her what to do?

“Fine,” she said with mock indignation. She went over to the closet where he kept the spare pillow and blanket.

He got to his feet and put his hand on the closet door, preventing her from opening it. “We’re past this. It’s cold downstairs. Just take the bed.”

“What about you?” Her eyes were wide.

“Oh, I’m taking the bed, too.”

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I read this book before Hollywood Honkytonk and this is a new to me author, too.  If you read the review above, first, you might not think that I liked this book.  I truly did like the book.  Sam was an awesome hero and Eve is a joy.  But here is some of things that I like and didn’t like about Deep Down.

  1.  Sam (Hero) – Loved him.  Torn between the party boy in him, finally deciding the grow up and then realizing that Kyle isn’t what he needs around him anymore.  Great character depth, even though he didn’t think he was worth much.
  2.  Eve (heroine) – Wow, what a character.  She had been through enough in her life and not having anyone in her corner, she never let it get her down.  All she wanted was to be a chef.  Romance is the last thing on her mind.
  3. Secondary characters – OMG!  Tiffani, Tiffani, Tiffani.  That girl needs her own book.  I missed her when she wasn’t around.  She was the perfect friend for Eve.  Kyle was a douche.  That is all.  Oh and Judith and Charlie.  *sniff*
  4. The dialogue between Sam and Eve is great.  Sexy, snarky and honest.  I really felt the connection between them.  It is a very slow build to their romance.  Once it starts, though, there is no stopping.  In fact, I think it was too fast in some parts.  I love a good erotic story.  Ms. Hopkins writes exception erotic but at times I felt like it wasn’t needed.  I wanted more emotion from Sam.  Sometimes, the kink (very light) got in the way of a more emotional connection that I was craving from him.  The emotional connection from Eve is there from the start and that’s what broke my heart.

Overall, I really did like Sam and Eve.  The pacing is a bit slow in the beginning but once it picks up, it doesn’t let you go.  Ms. Hopkins can write a hot book with characters that you really can root for.

 

ABOUT MIA HOPKINS

Mia Hopkins writes lush romances starring fun, sexy characters who love to get down and dirty. She’s a sucker for working class heroes, brainy heroines and wisecracking best friends. When she’s not lost in a story, Mia spends her time cooking, gardening, traveling, volunteering and looking for her keys. In a past life, she was a classroom teacher and still has a pretty good “teacher voice” and “teacher stare.” She lives in the heart of Los Angeles with her roguish husband and two waggish dogs.

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#Review, Excerpt and Playlist for The Highlander Who Loved Me (Highland Hearts #1) by Tara Kingston w/a rafflecopter giveaway! @tarakingston115

The Highlander Who Loved Me

by Tara Kingston
Highland Hearts #1
Publication Date: December 12, 2016
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Historical Romance

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Synopsis: He may be her fiercest ally…or a scoundrel waiting to betray her.Johanna Templeton is on a life-and-death quest. Swept into an intrigue that rivals the tales she pens, she joins forces with a Highland rogue to find the treasure that will save her kidnapped niece—a prize the Scot seeks for reasons that have nothing to do with ransom. Engaging the Highlander in a sizzling battle of the sexes, Johanna shields her heart.

Connor MacMasters, spy for Queen Victoria, is a man on a mission—keep a legendary gemstone from an evil man. Trailing an American novelist who holds the key to the treasure should’ve been simple, but Johanna awakens feelings he’d long thought dead. Torn between duty and desire, he wants her in his bed, but loving her would be a fool’s game. Blasted shame his heart doesn’t agree.

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EXCERPT #2:

“Will you please get dressed?”

Her breath caught as he reached for a length of plaid that lay carelessly strewn over a quilt rack.

“As ye wish.” With a bold wink, he wrapped the fabric around the lower half of his body.

“That’s better.” The words burst from Johanna. Suddenly, she could breathe again.

He leaned back, and his gaze sauntered over her. The heat in his eyes, nearly a physical touch, warmed her. Once again, her defiant heart beat a wild dance. Definitely not a waltz. No, this was a tarantella. Exhilarating. Thrilling. Utterly rebellious.

“Aye, ye are indeed a temptation. I’ve seldom seen a more appealing sight. Most women would don silk or satin or some ridiculous lacy get-up that left them half bare. But you…you, Miss Templeton…have chosen cotton from head to toe.”

“Oh, my.” Had the whisper actually made it past her lips? Mortification spiraled through her veins. She’d forgotten the matronly nightdress she wore.

“Ye’ve decided to maintain yer mystery.” The mischief in his eyes transformed into something far more dangerous, laced with desire and unspoken promise. He slipped his hands over her shoulders. The low rumble of his voice stirred a deep, languorous need deep within. “I like it.”

He was teasing her. Of that, she was quite certain. He was no fool. Surely he knew the truth of her purpose in his chamber.

But that did not dilute the power of his attraction, the magnetic pull of the hunger in those penetrating green eyes. She did not pull away. In truth, Johanna doubted she could’ve willed herself to reject his gentle touch. The beat of her heart punctuated each moment of contact.

He drew her close. His arms encircled her, and he pressed her to his body, to the hard length beneath the plaid that betrayed his most primal need. The flicker of amusement in his gaze had transformed into a far deeper emotion, a yearning that transcended the hunger of the flesh.

“Ah, ye are a bonny lass.” With one hand, he smoothed tendrils of hair behind her ear. “A temptation too sweet to resist.”

The heat of his body seared her. She should push him away. Really, she should. But some rebellious instinct deep within demanded she savor this moment. She’d never been in the arms of a man such as Connor MacMasters. Never luxuriated in the intoxicating essence of a vital, powerful male in his prime.

Never allowed herself to be swept away.

His mouth brushed her cheek. Skimmed her flesh with the gentlest of touches, with a seductive lack of haste, as if he drank in every moment of contact. Roaring currents of desire drowned out the feeble protests of her logical mind.

“I know what ye want, Johanna.” His words were a raw whisper. Ragged. Her name on his lips unfurled a deeper longing.

“How can you know?” she whispered. “I don’t understand myself.”

“I know what’s brought ye here…why ye’re in my arms tonight.” His warm breath tickled the curve of her jaw. He pressed a kiss to the tender spot at the base of her throat where her pulse throbbed. Pleasure raced through her veins, and she wanted more.

More of his touch. More of his kiss. More of him.

 

Tara Kingston’s Playlist for The Highlander Who Loved Me

  1.   Make You Feel My Love — Adele
  2.   Something — The Beatles
  3.   Open Your Heart — Madonna
  4.   Breathe — Faith Hill
  5.   Stay With Me — Sam Smith
  6.   Take My Breath Away — Berlin
  7.   Maybe I’m Amazed — Paul McCartney
  8.   Love Me Like You Do — Ellie Goulding
  9.   Skyfall — Adele
  10.  Unconditionally — Katy Perry
  11.  Nobody Does It Better — Carly Simon
  12.  Kiss Me — Ed Sheeran
  13.  I Choose You — Sara Bareilles

 

Oh my, my.  Victorian Romance?  Check.  Suspense/Mystery?  Check.  Scotland?  Check.  An American that is feisty, smart and thrown into a situation that she honestly thinks she can handle on her own?  Check.  A sexy Scot that I kept imagining NOT wearing a kilt?  Check.  That sexy Scot, Connor, can dirty talk to me anytime he wants?  Check.  Okay, maybe he didn’t dirty talk but he sure did know how to get Johanna’s motor running.  The smexy times were just awesome.

What was especially intriguing to me was the suspense/mystery element to the story.  Sure the romance was awesome and sexy but for me, it was how Connor and Johanna worked together to figure out the mystery, rescue her niece and all the while, falling in love.  The pacing of the story is great.  I don’t like a slow, historical romance.  I get bored and move on.  Ms. Kingston just kept the plot moving for me and having characters that I truly cared about and wanted together made it for me.

The secondary characters are a hoot.  I especially liked Connor’s family and I hope that his brothers get their own stories in the series.  Plus, now that know the musical playlist to this story…Ms. Kingston nailed it.  Just nailed it.  Beautiful music for a beautiful couple and story.  I normally don’t care about a playlist in a story.  I read in complete silence but this one touched me.  It is one of those details that some authors fail in.  She did her homework and I can’t wait to read more from her.

Overall, I highly recommend this story to anyone.  Oh yes, anyone.  It’s that good.

ABOUT TARA KINGSTON

Award-winning author Tara Kingston writes romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures of the heart. A Southern Navy brat transplanted to a quaint Pennsylvania town, she lives her own love story with her real-life hero in a cozy Victorian. The mother of two sons, Tara’s a former librarian whose love of books is evident in her popping-at-the-seams bookcases and collection of unusual bookmarks. It goes without saying that Tara’s husband is thankful for the invention of digital books, thereby eliminating the need for yet another bookcase.

When she’s not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara enjoys cycling, hiking, and cheering on her favorite football team. Learn more about Tara at www.tarakingston.com.

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