Read an excerpt from this Christian Romcom... A Cameo for a Cowgirl by Carolyn Miller (Excerpt & #Giveaway) #newbooks #bookx #romancebooks #christianromance #romcom @justreadtours

A Cameo for a Cowgirl JustRead Blog + Review Tour

Welcome to my tour stop with JustRead Publicity Tours!
Read an excerpt and enter the giveaway below...

A Cameo for a Cowgirl
A Cameo for a Cowgirl
(Three Creek Ranch #1)
By Carolyn Miller
Christian Romantic Comedy
Paperback & eBook, 214 Pages
June 14, 2024

Summary

Welcome to Three Creek Ranch, home of the James family for over a hundred years, complete with its own Western movie set. 

Franklin James might be a famous pro hockey player, but just because he's Cassie's older brother doesn't mean she wants to step into the limelight. She's too busy helping her dad run the ranch and managing the ranch's movie set, and negotiating with the giant egos of movie stars like Harrison Woods, who's supposed to be filming the new TV series of As The Heart Draws. And while his TV hero characters might be hugely popular, Harrison's real character seems anything but noble. Cassie is convinced he's hiding something, and that this diva's nice guy moments are just an act. 

Can she remind him what being a true hero is all about?

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt

Harrison’s bicep bulged as he rubbed a hand over his face, his cheeks bristly in a morning look some might call sexy. Not that she thought him attractive. He was much too grouchy at this time of day to be appealing. He frowned at her. “What are you doing around here anyway at this time? The sun hasn’t even risen yet.”

“Actually…” Cassie pointed to the golden-hued horizon.

He made a face, mumbling something else she guessed wasn’t complimentary—about the early hour or herself, she didn’t care to know.

“I’m an early bird. We tend to get the worm.”

He yawned. “I sure don’t plan on getting worms while I’m here.”

She chuckled, and he appeared to realize what he said, as his cheeks pinked. “I mean—”

“I know what you meant.” Was it un-Christian of her to enjoy watching him squirm? This day kept getting better and better. “Well, are you definitely okay to go back to sleep now?”

“You want to hold my hand and make sure?” he grouched.

Yeah, that’d be a solid “no.”

He turned, and the way the shirt clung to him she could count his abs. If she’d been a different kind of woman she might take a mental picture. But because she wasn’t that kind of woman, she looked away. “Alright then. If you’re sure you’ll be okay.”

“I’m not a child,” he snapped.

“Of course you’re not.”

His gaze lasered into hers in a look that said he was not amused by her tone. She swallowed a smile. She hadn’t meant to sound patronizing. Well, not much, anyway.

Other Books in the Series

Fire and Ice   

About the Author

Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Miller is a bestselling Australian author of historical and contemporary romance. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include the Regency Brides and the Regency Wallflowers series. Her contemporary novels include the Original Six and Northwest Ice hockey romance series, the Muskoka Shores romance series, and those in the Independence Islands series. Her stories have been described by Publishers Weekly as "a winsome exploration of life, love and faith" and witty "with snappy repartee that rockets off the page" (Library Journal). Readers enjoy these books that are humorous yet also deal with real issues, such as dealing with forgiveness, the nature of really loving versus 'true love', and other challenges. Her novels can be considered 'inspirational', and may appeal to readers of Christian fiction, who want stories of hope and redemption - with a twist of Aussie humour.

Connect with Carolyn at carolynmillerauthor.com to follow her on social media and sign up for email updates.

Tour Schedule

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Tour-Wide Giveaway

A Cameo for a Cowgirl JustRead Tours blog giveaway

(1) winner will win a print (US only) or ebook (where available) copy of A Cameo for the Cowgirl plus a $20 Amazon gift card!

Full tour schedule linked above. The giveaway begins at midnight June 12, 2024 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on June 19, 2024. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only for print. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.

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Did the excerpt make you want to read more? Have you read any of this author's other books?

A mesh up of Mean Girls and Scream... Seasick by Kristin Cast and Pintip Dun (Review) #newbooks #bookx #yalit #yabooks #thriller #Seasick #TBRBeyondTours #KristinCast #PintipDunn @tbrbeyondtours


Welcome to my tour stop! I'm sharing about this new YA thriller today. Read on below...

Seasick
By Kristin Cast and Pintip Dun
YA Contemporary Thriller
Hardcover, Audiobook & eBook, 336 Pages
June 11, 2024 by Delacorte Press

Summary

There’s a killer on board a luxury yacht, and two former friends must team up to figure out which of their privileged classmates has a penchant for murder before they become victims themselves. Don’t miss out on this gripping thriller from New York Times bestselling authors Kristin Cast and Pintip Dunn!

Ex–best friends Naya Morgan and Yana Bunpraserit have always felt like outsiders in their small Oklahoma town. But this year, everything changes when they’re inducted into an exclusive society of Yatesville High’s top recent graduates. Unimaginable opportunities await them, starting with a celebratory yacht trip to Bermuda. Despite the likely onslaught of microaggressions and backhanded compliments from their peers—in addition to their own rocky past—Yana and Naya are ready for an epic voyage.

Then one of their classmates is brutally murdered, leaving them stuck at sea with a killer. Yana and Naya may have avoided each other for years, yet as the body count rises, rekindling their friendship might be the only way they’ll both survive.

Content Warning: murder, death, microaggressions, racism, blood

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

SEASICK is a mesh up of Mean Girls and Scream where high school graduates get a super exclusive trip on a glamorous yacht to the Bermudas. What should be the best ever epic graduation party for this circle of popular and rich friends, turns into a nightmare when they start getting murdered. The friends try to figure out what is going on and who is after them while trying to stay alive in this harrowing thriller. A definite page-turner!

There are two main POVs in this story, both girls with multicultural backgrounds who didn't grow up in the rich, popular circles of their small town. They were best friends until one of them joined the circle in eighth grade while the other remained outside. Both get invited into this exclusive group of graduates who take a congratulatory trip on a yacht. Even though neither really needs to go, they both want to fit in and receive the advantages of the elite group and so they go. The story starts off between their two perspectives and gossip posts from one of the popular girls. Everything is pretty superficial with all the drama, manipulation, competition and bullying that readers would expect from this type of story and then turns into a bloody murderous rampage while the characters try to figure out who the villain is and how to save themselves.

I didn't love either main character. I think part of that was the type of story this is and that they didn't really ever feel genuine. They were always trying to fit in with this other group regardless if these other people deserved to be their friends or to have their opinions count. They didn't always choose to be kind or stand up against their friends who were being mean. It's all very materialist and caring a lot about what others think of them. Both POVs were also a bit similar to me in background, voice and choices so they blended together sometimes. I would have liked them to be more distinct and at least one of them to be more confident. They felt a bit lackluster for characters. Because of this, the beginning dragged a bit for me while the story was being set up and all the gossiping and backstabbing was going on. However, once the first murder happens, this story becomes much more intense. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen and who the murderer was, even through all their stupid, cliche choices that you would find in most teenage thrillers like this one (like not being alone when someone is trying to kill you!). The story does keep readers guessing a bit, which is always good, with a few twists. There is also a sweet ending, even though it's tied off a little too prettily.

In a nutshell:
Read if you like...
- Movies like Mean Girls and Scream
- Suspenseful mysteries in close proximity, think Death on the Nile
- Stories where you're not sure who to trust
- Suspense with a few twists
- Gossipy tidbits thrown in and secrets uncovered
- Multicultural characters
- Romance with a bit of heat
- Characters who aren't safe from being murdered
- More than a bit of bloody violence
- A super sweet, prettily tied up ending
Some things I didn't like...
- The characters were a bit flat and not overly likable
- The POV's voices felt and sounded very similar
- The characters and story were fairly superficial
- There was nothing that really made me think or challenged me
- There were a lot of blunt, descriptive, suggestive parts
- The ending was tied up too perfectly

In the end, was it what I wished for? This isn't my type of read, but it still held my interest once the mystery and murders got going. For those who enjoy these types of stories, this is definitely worth adding to your list.

Content: Swearing, innuendo, suggestive content, crude references, racist comments, some bloody violence.
Source: I received a complimentary copy through TBR and Beyond Tours, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Authors


Kristin Cast is a #1 USA Today bestselling author with over 25 million books in print and has spent over 250 weeks on the NYT bestseller list, peaking at #1.

She is neurodivergent (ASD + OCD), was born on an Air Force base in Japan, and grew up in Oklahoma where she explored everything from tattoo modeling to broadcast journalism. After battling addiction, Kristin made her way to the Pacific Northwest and landed in Portland. She rediscovered her passion for storytelling in the stacks at dusty bookstores and in rickety chairs in old coffeehouses.

For as long as she can remember, Kristin’s been telling stories. Thankfully, she’s been writing them down since 2005.



Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.

Her novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix del’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the TomeSociety It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.

Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, STAR-CROSSED, and MALICE.


Tour Schedule

Follow the tour here.


Are you a fan of either or both of these authors? Is this your type of story? Have you read any other mysteries or thrillers set on a boat?

I Can't Wait for... My Salty Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows (Can't-Wait Wednesday) #CWW #WOW #bookx #newbooks #yalit #yabooks #myladyjanies #mysaltymary @harperteen


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. Find out more here.

The Lady Janies series is just an overall fun concept blending retellings with historical figures. The premises are creative with well-written characters and stories from these three well established writers. The newest addition is my pick this week...

My Salty Mary
(The Lady Janies #6/Mary #3)
By Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows
YA Historical Romance, Paranormal, Fairy Tale Retelling
Hardcover, Audiobook & eBook, 448 Pages
August 20, 2024 by HarperTeen

Summary

Soon to Be a Streaming Series

Perfect for fans of The Princess Bride and A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and VirtueNew York Times bestselling authors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows are back with a fantastical, romantical, and piratical historical fantasy remix that marries the story of The Little Mermaid with the life and times of infamous lady pirate Mary Read.


Don't call this mermaid "little"—call her "captain," unless you want to walk the plank.

Mary is in love with the so-called prince of Charles Town, except he doesn't love her back. Which is inconvenient. Since she's a mermaid, being brokenhearted means she'll—poof!—turn into sea-foam.

But instead, Mary finds herself pulled out of the sea and up onto a pirate ship. To survive, she joins them. But Mary isn't willing to just sing the yo-ho-hos. She wants the pirate life, all of it, and she's ready to make a splash . . . by becoming captain. But when Blackbeard dies suddenly, Mary has a chance to become so much more: Pirate King . . . or Queen. She won't let anyone stop her—not Blackbeard's cute son, not her best friend from back under the sea who's having a bit too much fun with his new legs, and certainly not everyone who says she can't be a pirate just because she's a girl.

She may not be the best man for the job, but she'll definitely prove that she's worth her salt.

(Affiliate links included.)


Will you be reading this one?

Check out a Q&A with the author... Truth Be Told by Patricia Raybon (Interview) #newbooks #bookx #suspense #christfic #christianfiction @crazy4fiction @tyndalehouse


Welcome! I'm thrilled to share an interview with the author from the
publisher in honor of this series' third book release. Read on below...

Truth Be Told
(An Annalee Spain Mystery #3)
By Patricia Raybon
Christian Historical Mystery, Suspense
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 416 Pages
June 11, 2024 by Tyndale House Publishers

Summary

Denver's newest detective. A garden's deadly secrets.

On a lovely June night in 1924, amateur detective Annalee Spain is mingling bravely at a high-class political fundraiser in the lush backyard garden of famed political fixer Cooper Coates, one of the wealthiest men in Denver's Black neighborhood of Five Points. When Coates’s young daughter discovers a pretty stranger dead in her father’s garden shed, Annalee is thrust onto the baffling new case just as she’s reeling from another recent discovery—a handwritten letter, found buried in her own garden, that reveals the identity of her mother.

Not ready to face the truth about her hidden past, Annalee throws herself into solving the mystery of the young woman’s demise. With the help of her pastor boyfriend Jack Blake, her orphaned buddy Eddie, and her trustworthy church friends, Annalee follows the clues to three seemingly disconnected settings—a traveling carnival set up downtown, a Black civic club, and a prestigious white seminary on the outskirts of Denver. Intriguing advice also comes from a famous, real-life Denver visitor. But is Annalee on the right track or just running in circles, fleeing from conflicts racing in her heart?

In a taut, heart-gripping narrative driven by secrets, romance, and lies, Annalee must unravel a case with higher stakes than she imagined—one where answers about a lovely woman's death point to truths and tensions still throbbing today.

- A clean historical mystery featuring an amateur female detective, from the Christy Award–winning author of All That Is Secret
- Third installment in the Annalee Spain series
- Includes discussion questions for book groups

(Affiliate links included.)

Author Interview

What can readers who have come to know and love your series expect in the third installment?

In true Annalee fashion, she dives with passion into unraveling this next case— the murder of a pretty, young stranger found dead in a rich man’s garden. Making appearances as sidekicks are Annalee’s ensemble of intrepid church pals along with her orphaned buddy Eddie and her heartthrob pastor boyfriend, the Rev. Jack Blake. With a murder in a garden, Annalee also looks to a real-life surprise visitor to Denver—the renowned agricultural scientist, George Washington Carver—who shows up to help her understand a curious prairie plant that may sit at the center of the murder case. The official promo describes Truth Be Told as “a taut, heart-gripping narrative driven by secrets, romance, and lies.” It’s an apt description, and I’m excited for Annalee fans and newcomers alike to enjoy it.

What themes do you explore in Truth Be Told?

With a garden murder, this third installment explores the seeds we plant in life, whether truth or lies, and what kind of harvests they yield. When our heart’s ground is plowed with fear, revenge, bigotry, suspicion, and pride, what’s the impact on our lives—not to mention the impact on our families, nation, and the world? In a compromised world, indeed, what does Annalee discover? That pursuing truth is always worth the risk, especially when pursuing the truth about yourself. That may seem like a heavy challenge for a humble detective like Annalee Spain, but she confronts the test head-on—taking on truths, lies, and tensions still throbbing today.

What kind of research did you do to inform this story?

For the big picture, I was inspired by the Black migration narratives compiled by journalist Isabel Wilkerson in her riveting book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration. I also pored through the sadly commonplace records of sexual exploitation of vulnerable young women by powerful men—and the pushback on such behavior, known today as the “Me Too Movement”—as revealed in books such as She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement by journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. For small, day-to-day details, I spent hours scouring newspapers of the day, archived at such wonderful sites as coloradohistoricalnewspapers.org and newspapers.com. Beyond the articles, the ads in early newspapers provide a remarkable picture of what people were buying, reading, writing, wearing, eating, watching, and visiting—and at what price. So, a new Ford touring car in 1924 went for $245 (or, splurging, a Studebaker Light-Six for $1,045). Or spring women’s hats for $5 at Saller Dry Goods in a small Colorado town. These details bring the era to life, along with the people who lived then.

How does faith play a role in this story?

Faith gets scrutinized deeply as Annalee questions whether God really cares about victims of hate and prejudice in her town. Thus, she’s not just solving crime, but tackling her own spiritual questions. At one point, after an innocent Black woman dies in a senseless altercation, Annalee tries praying the twenty-third psalm, but stops, feeling angry that God didn’t intervene. “Yes, I’m fussing,” she prays. “Because I’m so angry at what happened. And there’s not a thing I can do about it . . . but ‘Thou art with me?’” Later, she questions Jack, her pastor boyfriend: 

“Does God even know [what happened]?” Annalee whispered. “Does God care?” 
Jack surprised her with his answer. 
“He’d better.” 

Such spiritual searching moves each Annalee story beyond a simple murder mystery to a deeper inquiry of God’s actions within it.

You describe yourself as a “recovering pantser.” How has outlining shaped your writing process?

Outlining makes my writing time more efficient. With an outline, I can identify problems in the plot and correct them before the actual writing begins. In that way, outlining is pre-writing—or like “pantsing”—but in a shortened form. I’m following my nose to discover the best actions and twists, but I can step back during the pre-writing to twist everything tighter. If it doesn’t work, I can ditch it before wasting tons of writing time. I know the Stephen Kings of the world wouldn’t be caught dead, literally, outlining a story. They’re pantsers all the way, and I admire their daring skill. For me, however, outlining uses my time better and, to my surprise, can render a better story.

As your story developed, did any characters surprise you, or did the story unfold in surprising ways?

Three characters shocked me. A high-wire trapeze artist who works high in the air, defying gravity and maybe common sense, tests both her self-worth as a young Black woman in a dangerous time and Annalee Spain’s courage to pursue a dangerous case. Second, George Washington Carver—a real-life personality—stepped into the fictional plot to help Annalee understand the relationship between plants and people, all informed by his deep prayer life. I’d never used a real person before in an Annalee story, but I love the rich, affirming presence he brought to the mystery. Third, the presence of Annalee’s unknown mother weaves its way throughout the narrative, ending with Annalee unearthing, literally, the truth of who her mother is. Did her mother surprise me? Totally. Will she surprise readers? I believe that, yes, she will.

Which scene in Truth Be Told did you most enjoy writing?

I adore every scene between Annalee and Jack Blake, her love interest. My “history mystery” isn’t a romance per se, but as a duo, those two defy their times and their good sense, such as it is, to discover all they can mean to each other, intellectually and emotionally, in a culture and time that devalues them because of the color of their skin. They find each other tantalizing, amazing, and the imago dei—bearers of God’s image—in their challenging world. So they adore being together, defying danger to tackle crime and their spiritual quandaries. After one night of dangerous sleuthing, Jack tells Annalee their outing was crazy, dangerous, and fun, too. Then off they go to try it again. Those are fun scenes to write, and I pray readers enjoy their interactions.

What can readers learn from your protagonist, Annalee Spain, in Truth Be Told?

Fear not.

What books have you read lately that inspired you?

I loved Geraldine Brooks’s tour de force, Horse. Truly, I was stunned by the depth of her narrative power. I found that same creative prowess in Sophfronia Scott’s latest novel, Wild, Beautiful, and Free. I love stories with characters of color who are fully dimensional, not just add-ons. Both books filled that bill. So did a detective novel I recently gobbled up, A Disappearance in Fiji by Nilima Rao. It’s captivating. Finally, three history books recently brought me to my knees—King: A Life by Jonathan Eig, Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson, and American Nations by Colin Woodard. Presently I’m also enthralled by The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and How Big Things Get Done by Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner. On my TBR list is Paulette Jiles’s new novel, Chenneville, and a memoir, Up Home: One Girl’s Journey by Ruth J. Simmons. Finally, I’m re-reading my second Annalee Spain novel, Double the Lies. It won Christianity Today’s 2024 Book Award for Fiction, so I’m re-reading it to remind myself why, and so far I’m not disappointed. Yay for Annalee!

Do you have any future writing projects planned?

I’m thrilled to be planning my next novel with Tyndale Fiction, a World War II historical stand-alone about a young female teacher at an upper-crust Black finishing school in North Carolina tobacco country. Nearby is a sprawling US Army base where she’s drawn into intrigue involving an Italian POW imprisoned there and a young Black Army officer stationed there. I love the story and characters, and I’m humbled and excited to attempt this project—my first stand-alone. I hope readers enjoy it, too. Writing prayers solicited!

Other Books in the Series

(Linked to Amazon affiliate links.)

About the Author


Patricia Raybon is a Colorado author and essayist who writes daring and exciting novels at the intersection of faith and race. Her devotional writing appears in Our Daily Bread, where she’s a regular contributor. She also authors the Annalee Spain Mysteries, a “history mystery” series featuring a young Black theologian who solves crime during Colorado’s dangerous 1920s Klan years. She has won both the Christy Award and the Christianity Today Book of the Year award for her fiction. A former newspaper journalist and journalism faculty member at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Patricia and her husband, Dan, a retired educator, have two grown daughters.

Find the author here.


Are you a historical mystery fan? Have you read either of the previous books in this series? What connected with you in the interview?

Read an excerpt from this new multicultural romance... Isabel and the Rogue by Liana De la Rosa (Excerpt) #newbooks #bookx #romancebooks #historicalromance #multicultural @BerkleyRomance @BerkleyPub

Isabel and the Rogue
(The Luna Sisters #2)
By Liana De la Rosa
Historical Multicultural Romance
Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 352 Pages
June 4, 2024 by Berkley

Summary

When a daring Mexican heiress defies Victorian society to protect her country a British war hero makes it his new mission to protect her…

Isabel Luna Valdés has long since resigned herself to being the “forgotten” Luna sister. But thanks to familial connections to the Mexican ambassador in London, wallflower Isabel is poised to unearth any British intelligence hidden by the ton that might aid Mexico during the French Occupation. Though she slips easily from crowded ballrooms into libraries and private studies, Isabel’s search is hampered by trysting couples and prowling rogues—including the rakish Captain Sirius Dawson.

As a covert agent for the British Home Office, Sirius makes a game of earning the aristocracy’s confidence. He spends his days befriending foolish politicians and seducing well-born ladies in order to learn their secrets. But after he spies a certain sharp-tongued Luna sister lurking in the shadows where no proper debutante should venture, it’s clear Sirius is outmatched, outwitted, and soon to be outmaneuvered by the one woman he can’t resist.

Their mutual attraction is undeniable, but when Isabel discovers private correspondence that could turn the tide of political turmoil in Mexico, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect her country—even if this means ignoring her heart and courting danger. . . .

(Affiliate links included.)

Excerpt

A quick peek into the hall revealed her escape route was clear, so Isabel rearranged her expression to one she hoped reflected eagerness to rejoin the festivities. Not that anyone would notice her absence. Isabel was as invisible as the wallpaper-

A hand shot out and grabbed her wrist the moment she set foot inside the ballroom. Panic clawed up her spine, and out of instinct, Isabel brought her hand up to ram it into the perpetrator's nose, when a familiar scent wove about her. A stupidly alluring scent she'd know anywhere, for the man it belonged to was also stupidly alluring.

"Snooping again, I suppose." Captain Sirius Dawson slid his arm around Isabel's waist while his left hand grasped her right. "After everything, it seems you've yet to learn your lesson."

Isabel bristled . . . because of his accusation or his proximity she didn't know, for Captain Dawson had an annoying talent of leaving her decidedly off-kilter.

She almost despised him for it.

As he effortlessly spun her into the swirl of dancers, part of Isabel realized that the captain had never danced with her before, thus she'd never been this close to him. Her skin tingled with awareness at every spot he touched. Isabel hated that she was apathetic to most men but that every part of her body seemed to stand at attention whenever this man-with his golden beauty and perceptive azul eyes-appeared.

Willing her muscles to relax, Isabel allowed him to move them to the strains of a Chopin waltz. Feeling gazes pressing upon her-whether Lady Yardley's or Gabby's, or possibly one of the scores of Captain Dawson's admirers-Isabel raised her chin. She'd danced a waltz with any number of gentlemen in the time she'd been in England, but never with him. For all that he was her brother-in-law's friend, or that Isabel had spent more than a fortnight at Captain Dawson's country estate, he had seemed to go out of his way to ignore her presence. Being shunned by such a man should not bother her half as much as it did, but her chest went tight whenever she saw him.

The amused look on Captain Dawson's face now reminded Isabel that he had said . . . something. She was sure it was a scold, because when he did speak to her, he liked to point out her bad behavior. Isabel replayed his words in her mind.

"I don't know what you mean. I was merely returning from the retiring room when you waylaid me into this waltz." She arched a brow. "If you wanted to dance with me, you could have asked politely, like everyone else."

Isabel managed not to cringe through her bluff. Everyone else? Hardly. While her dance card was never empty, for rumors of her fortune had encouraged many a cash-strapped second son to seek out her hand, her reserved nature was not particularly inviting. She'd learned quickly that if she spoke of a novel she'd read or a new scientific discovery she'd heard about, eyes would glaze over and attentions would wander. More often than not, Isabel held her silence during such dances, answering the gentlemen's questions politely but volunteering nothing else, for truly, what was the point?

But something about the captain always made her speak without thinking. It was a very vexing thing. The captain was very vexing.

His blue eyes bored into her now, his lips a confusing slash between displeasure and amusement. Surely Isabel was reading him wrong and she fought not to squirm. She had always believed her father possessed the most intimidating stare, but she'd been wrong, for nothing made her want to share all her secrets-or confess all her sins-like Captain Dawson's steely gaze. It was a fortuitous thing, then, that Isabel's stubbornness was more than up for the challenge.

"I don't see why you should care about me or what I do when you and I are not friends," she said archly.

"We aren't?" The captain's brows rose. "Whatever gave you that impression?"

Her own brows dipped low over her narrowed eyes. "You did, sir. In all the months since we departed Dancourt Abbey, you've not spoken with me once. Nor my sister or Lady Yardley, that I am aware of

Well, that's not true," he murmured. "I chatted with Lady Yardley in the park just the other day."

"How nice for you." Isabel pinned her gaze on a perfect blond curl near the nape of his neck. "Yet the fact remains that we have never been friendly, Captain Dawson, even while my sisters and I were at Dancourt Abbey that summer. You have never taken any interest in me-" Isabel clamped down on her tongue so hard she tasted copper. She had no intention of hinting at her hurt feelings over his disregard. She never wanted any man to think he could maim her pride. Especially this man.

His chest rose and fell with a sigh, and Captain Dawson shifted his gaze from her face to a spot over her shoulder. "That's not true. I assured Fox I would keep an eye on you and Miss Gabriela-"

"And I assure you, Capitán, that my sister and I do not need anything from you."

Isabel did not raise her voice, nor did her tone hint at the anger his indifference had sparked within her. But Captain Dawson seemed to know anyway, for the angular planes of his face softened. Just a tad.

She refused to soften in return. The captain may be her brother-in-law's close friend, and he may have sheltered her and her sisters from Mexico's enemies after Ana María and Gideon were wed. But Captain Dawson had shown her time and time again that she was not worth his notice.

Being a wallflower had its benefits, but Isabel was so very tired of being overlooked.

---

Excerpted from Isabel and The Rogue by Liana De la Rosa Copyright © 2024 by Liana De la Rosa. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Other Books in the Series

(Linked to an Amazon affiliate link.)

About the Author


Liana De la Rosa is a historical romance author who writes diverse characters in the Regency and Victorian periods. Liana has an English degree from the University of Arizona, and in her past life she owned a mystery shopping company and sold pecans for a large farm. When she’s not writing, Liana is listening to true crime podcasts and pretending she's a domestic goddess while she wrangles her spirited brood of children with her patient husband in Arizona. Learn more online at www.lianadelarosa.com.

Photo credit: Berkley Jove (TR) 2022


Are you a Regency romance fan? Did you read this author's previous book? Did the excerpt make you want to read more?

A very gritty, dark YA fantasy... The Poisons We Drink by Bethany Baptiste (Review) #newbooks #booktwitter #bookx #yalit #yabooks

The Poisons We Drink
By Bethany Baptiste
YA Fantasy, Magical Realism, LGBTQ+
Hardcover Audiobook & eBook, 480 Pages
April 30, 2024 by Sourcebooks Fire 

Summary

In a country divided between humans and witchers, Venus Stoneheart hustles as a brewer making illegal love potions to support her family.

Love potions is a dangerous business. Brewing has painful, debilitating side effects, and getting caught means death or a prison sentence. But what Venus is most afraid of is the dark, sentient magic within her.

Then an enemy's iron bullet kills her mother, Venus's life implodes. Keeping her reckless little sister Janus safe is now her responsibility. When the powerful Grand Witcher, the ruthless head of her coven, offers Venus the chance to punish her mother's killer, she has to pay a steep price for revenge. The cost? Brew poisonous potions to enslave D.C.'s most influential politicians.

As Venus crawls deeper into the corrupt underbelly of her city, the line between magic and power blurs, and it's hard to tell who to trust…

Herself included.

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

THE POISONS WE DRINK is a book about a group of characters trying to survive as a people who are discriminated against and find the truth of their past as they decide on their future. It's about friendship, family, loss, lies, greed, violence, hate, magic, manipulation, romance and sacrifice. It's a very gritty and dark story with some strong, violent themes.

I loved the book cover! I was completely on board with this author's premise and letter at the start of the book as I felt very similar. I liked the writing style. I liked the characters overall. Venus, Janus, Tyrell, Presley, Uncle Bram and Patches. Although, that is with the concession that I thought they were frustrating and I wanted to strangle them all. Lol! Except Patches. I just wanted to hug that one and have humorous chats (not that the cat could talk except with meaningful looks and actions). I liked the representation of a nonbinary character. For some that may be an issue. It was confusing sometimes with the English language being as it is, but I thought the author did a stellar job trying to make it clear when they were speaking or involved in a scene. I also thought the representation of how those who are discriminated against and the target of hate violence was accurate in all its terribleness as was the example of groups of people sabotaging each other for power and greed. I thought the storybook world was super creative and intriguing. I also enjoyed most of the last chapter as it gave a positive outlook on the future although that was a bit ruined by characters continuing to manipulate and control other people.

What didn't I like? This story was like a teenager's terrible shipwreck on high octane. There was so much drama. Characters (both adults, teenagers, and authorities) making decisions of hurt and violence without thought. A constant, intense whiplash of emotions. Resentment, anger, heartbreak. Family and friends not caring how they hurt each other. Hurt piled on top of hurt. So many terrible choices made by these characters. They wouldn't communicate anything honestly, which would have solved most all of the issues. No one wanted to ask for help. So many secrets, so much loss and violence, and almost all of it could have been avoided. There was the suspension of belief I had to use as one girl was the only one who could brew the needed potions out of thousands of witchers to save their people. Then there was the sadness and wrongness of messages that were promoted, like this one:

"Love was an awful, messy thing that made you do awful, messy things to prove you wanted it."

There were many views/messages/themes presented that were jaded and I disagreed with. And that's okay, but it's also pretty in your face without question. Such as never addressing that it's morally wrong to have teenagers brew potions that cause pretty harrowing damage to themselves, many times unsupervised with their guardians making them do it for money, and with the possibility that brewing could kill them. Also, it was never questioned that it just might be wrong to brew love potions that control other people. Or it being wrong to tie a man to a stake, give him a love potion that makes him fall in love with the idea of himself dying, and then burn him alive at the stake while he's crazily laughing since he's in love with himself burning to death and have a bunch of people watch as entertainment. It wasn't a story my heart wanted to wade through for hours. And it didn't leave me feeling better. More like inciting more anger and frustration. It's a miserable way to view life, and rather hopeless and heartbreaking.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This wasn't the right fit for me. It's a story that pours out grief and anger for all the discrimination and violence in the world with more hurt, violence and characters who make terrible choices in the name of love and change. Readers who are looking for this type of read, may connect with this book.

Content: Lots of swearing (mostly f-words), violence, a love scene between two teens, death (both murder and self-defense), self-harm for magic, vicious greed and manipulation. There is a warning in the book summary provided by the publisher/author. It's accurate and should be noted.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through Turn the Page Tours, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

What are your thoughts on this book? Have you read this one, and if so, what did you like about this story?

The Inheritance Games meets Ocean's 11... Heiress Takes All by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka (Spotlight) #newbooks #yalit #yabooks #bookx #thriller #HeiressTakesAll #TBRBeyondTours #EmilyWibberly #AustinSiegemundBroka @tbrbeyondbooks


Welcome to my tour stop for this new YA release! Check it out below...

Heiress Takes All
By Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka
YA Contemporary Romantic Thriller
Hardcover, Audiobook & eBook, 368 Pages
June 4, 2024 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary

The Inheritance Games meets Ocean’s 11 in this thrilling YA adventure about a teenager determined to pull off the perfect heist in the midst of her father’s wedding.

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Owens isn’t thrilled that her dad’s getting remarried…again. She’s especially not thrilled that he cheated on her mom, kicked them out of their Rhode Island home, and cut Olivia out of her rightful inheritance.

But this former heiress has a plan for revenge. While hundreds of guests gather on the grounds of the gorgeous estate where she grew up, everyone will be thinking romance—not robbery. She’ll play the part of dutiful daughter, but in reality she’ll be redistributing millions from her father’s online accounts. She only needs the handwritten pass code he keeps in the estate’s safe.

With the help of an eclectic crew of high school students and one former teacher, Olivia has plotted her mid-nuptial heist down to the second. But she didn’t plan for an obnoxiously nosy wedding guest, an interfering ex-boyfriend intent on winning her back, greedy European cousins with their own agenda, or a vengeful second wife. When everything seems like it’s going wrong, Olivia has to keep her eyes on what really matters: getting rich. And when she’s done, “something borrowed” will be the understatement of the year.

(Affiliate links included.)

About the Authors


Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka met and fell in love in high school. Austin went on to graduate from Harvard, while Emily graduated from Princeton. Together, they are the authors of several novels about romance for teens and adults. Now married, they live in Los Angeles, where they continue to take daily inspiration from their own love story.


Tour Schedule

Follow the tour here.


Are you a fan of The Inheritance Games or Ocean's 11 and this sounds like a story you'd enjoy? What do you like about the cover or synopsis?

An endearing historical fiction... The Hudson Collection by Jocelyn Green (Review) #thehudsoncollection #oncentralparkseries #jocelyngreen #historicalfiction #inspirationalfiction #newbooks #bookx #austenprosepr @JocelynGreen77 @bethany_house @austenprose


Welcome to my tour stop with Austenprose for
this new historical fiction! Read my review below...

The Hudson Collection
(On Central Park #2)
By Jocelyn Green
Christian Historical Fiction, Romance
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 352 Pages
June 4, 2024 by Bethany House Publishers

Summary

Step into the beguiling world of 1926 New York and discover the power of resilience, friendship, and love from award-winning author Jocelyn Green.

Elsa Reisner's lifelong dream of working as an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History is fading as the job begins to drain her passion. But fate takes an unexpected turn when she is assigned to catalog the bequest of a recently deceased patron whose Gothic country mansion holds secrets and treasures waiting to be discovered.

As Elsa delves into her task, she forms an unlikely bond with the estate's delightful gardener and her daughter, as well as an architectural salvage dealer who still bears scars from the Great War. Together, they embark on a thrilling treasure hunt for a missing relic intended to safeguard the servants' futures before the estate is sold. At the same time, Elsa's body seems to betray her with new symptoms from a childhood disease that isn't through with her yet.

With the brooding veteran and her handsome colleague joining the search, Elsa must navigate the tangled web of secrets and hidden motives along with the changing state of her health. As her deadline looms ever closer, will she be able to secure a new life for her friends before the estate slips from their grasp?

(Affiliate links included.)

My Review

THE HUDSON COLLECTION is a unique story set in New York in the roaring 20s. The characters are likable with a plot that emotionally intensifies as it goes, with themes of family, friendship, loss, faith, and romance. There are also a couple of mysteries and challenges with a woman who is a polio survivor and a child who is neurodivergent. A wonderfully endearing story!

This book's plot isn't like any others I've read. First off, the main character survived polio as a child and is still dealing with some of the ramifications. Then she also works as an ornithologist at a museum. She ends up cataloging an entire bird collection at an old estate for the museum and finds new friends there, one in particular who is autistic, and two men who are war veterans with outward and inward scars. I found so many parts intriguing, including the characters, and other parts completely compelling as Elsa builds friendships and unravels the mysteries behind the estate's deceased owner. I also really enjoyed this author's writing style. I didn't feel any lulls in the story as the characters and plot came alive. The characters were well drawn with their own complexities, and very relatable. There were some elements of faith weaved in, but nothing that overwhelmed the story. I especially loved the slowly building romance. Now I need to go back and read the first book in this series even though you don't need to do that to enjoy this story.

There were a few things that were overused or could have been developed a bit more. One was "a lump bobbed in his throat," which was used quite a bit and felt weird to me to be used so much for a guy swallowing. Otherwise, I had no complaints.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a very compelling story that I loved stepping into and living in its pages. Definitely recommended to historical fiction fans!

Content: Clean
Source: I received a complimentary copy through Austenprose, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Other Books in the Series

(Linked to an Amazon affiliate link.)

About the Author


Jocelyn Green (JocelynGreen.com) inspires faith and courage as the bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including the Christy Award-winning The Mark of the King and Drawn by the Current and her On Central Park series.

Find the author here.


Have you read the first book in this series? What do you like about this one? Have you read any other books with a character who has had polio?

I Can't Wait for... This Above All by Dana LeCheminant (Can't-Wait Wednesday) #CWW #WOW #bookx #newbooks #romancebooks #cleanreads #historicalromance @covenantcomms


Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. Find out more here.

What drew me to this book first was the gorgeous cover. It reminds me just a bit of the vistas in Pride and Prejudice and the premise sounds like it is a bit of that enemies-to-lovers trope, so it definitely sounds like a story I'll love. It's my pick this week...

This Above All
By Dana LeCheminant
Historical Romance, Clean & Wholesome
Paperback & eBook, 304 Pages
July 23, 2024 by Covenant Communications

Summary

Emma Mackenzie wants nothing more than an independent life, and she’s well on her way to securing it. But one thing stands in her way: Nicholas Forester, the man with whom she’s in competition for her grandfather’s land and money. If Nick can find a wife, that is. Her plan is simple: she will prevent him from forming any attachments and claiming the inheritance that is rightfully hers.

Nick will settle for nothing less than the deepest love—but there’s a catch. He must marry before the year is out if he is to inherit a great fortune. When he meets a lively young woman during his visit to the country, their attraction is immediate. Almost as immediate as his regret when he realizes that the woman is none other than Emma, the one person who could ruin his financial future.

As a web of secrets begins to unravel and romantic subterfuge ensues, Nick and Emma find themselves unlikely allies. When Emma learns that she, too, is required to wed before she can claim the inheritance, she sees only one scenario in which everyone gets what they want. But with everything she’s done to get in Nick’s way, the task before her may prove impossible. She must convince him to marry her.

(Affiliate links included.)


Will you be reading this one?

Check out a Q&A with the author... The Crown Conspiracy by Connie Mann (Interview) #newbooks #bookx #thecrownconspiracy #suspense #christfic @crazy4fiction


Welcome! I'm sharing a Q&A with the author from the publisher
today in honor of her newest release! Check it out below...

The Crown Conspiracy
(A Speranza Team Novel #1)
By Connie Mann
Christian Action-Adventure, Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook & eBook, 352 Pages
June 4, 2024 by Tyndale House Publishers

Summary

She’s a master at spotting a forgery . . . and knowing how to create one. But can she solve a decades-old mystery?

The media spotlight is the last thing art thief and forger Sophie Williams needs. But when one of three long-missing royal portraits turns up in Germany at her best friend’s art gallery, the spotlight is exactly what she gets. Since the tragic deaths of Princess Johanna of Neuhansberg and her two children forty years ago, the whereabouts of these portraits have been unknown . . . and the timing of their reappearance—just days before a new prince’s coronation—reignites questions surrounding the infamous accident.

Then Sophie’s best friend vanishes, and a rumor about hidden treasure connected to the paintings surfaces, seemingly confirmed by a cryptic message on the back of the first canvas. Convinced that finding the other two portraits will lead to her friend, Sophie begins a twisty investigation that pits her against other ruthless treasure hunters, a handsome investigator who seems to dog her trail at every turn, and a mysterious group that offers help, wearing an emblem identical to one on the painting.

From Germany’s grand castles and soaring cathedrals through the Alps to the canals of Venice, Sophie must choose her allies carefully if she hopes to find the portraits, rescue her best friend—and perhaps save a throne—before time runs out.

- A clean, contemporary adventure with a dash of romance
- A thrilling cold case mystery
- Includes discussion questions for book groups

(Affiliate links included.)

Author Interview

How did you come up with the idea for The Crown Conspiracy?

I love adventure stories, especially those involving treasure hunts and secret societies. Add in a castle or two, and I’m hooked. But a few years ago, I realized that too often, women were mainly supporting cast. They weren’t the ones saving the day and changing the world. So I started dreaming and imagining. What if there was a team of strong, flawed, compassionate, determined women who make a difference in this world, especially by helping other women? What if they were part of a centuries-old, women-only secret society whose symbol and name meant “hope”? All those what-ifs became The Crown Conspiracy and the Speranza Team.

What attracted you to writing books in this genre?

So many of my favorite story elements are found in action-adventure: quests, treasure hunts, secret societies, legends and ancient artifacts, and often exotic settings. I love that they are fast-paced and exciting, filled with action and suspense. There is often a love interest, but the focus is more on the quest than the romance. In a genre often dominated by male characters (and authors), I decided to write an action-adventure series featuring a team of strong women in the lead roles. They’re the ones finding the treasure, defeating the villains, and saving the day.

Describe the audience you envisioned while writing this book. Who do you think will enjoy this book? What do you hope readers will take away from the story?

While the Speranza Team is fictional, I believe it exists in spirit. Women have always banded together around common causes and helped each other make a difference in this world. These informal teams have always been about hope and shining light in the darkness. I want this book to encourage women to keep working together, and even more, to have the courage to step out and use their specific gifts and talents to change the world for the better.

Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

Sophie Williams, the heroine of this story, is an artist, but she also copies/forges artwork, which fascinated me. I spent lots of time researching how that works. She is a talented artist in her own right—though she doesn’t believe in her own talents. Instead, she is all about righting wrongs, just like her parents. She copies stolen paintings and then quietly switches them out, returning the originals to the rightful owners. How cool is that?

What messages, themes, or symbols are included in The Crown Conspiracy? Why are they important?

During my research, I came across the phrase, “I believe in God even when He is silent” and it grabbed me by the heart. In my own life, I’ve had to wrestle down those silences. Believing He is always there is the foundation of my hope, my anchor. I tried to find the author and discovered the phrase is part of a longer poem, with different variations and attributions. I’ve fictionalized one of the origin theories for the purposes of this story. I’m also fascinated by secret societies, so creating one that was centuries old and women-only, with an emblem of an anchor and a feather, and a name that means “hope”? Yes, please.

What was your favorite scene to write in The Crown Conspiracy? What was the most challenging scene to write?

One of my favorite scenes is when Sophie—disguised as an older, rich society matron—gets pulled into a dance by Mac, the handsome, too-observant art investigator who is searching for Munich’s art thief. Fun, flirty banter is one of my favorite things to write. The climax scene is always the most difficult, with so many plotlines and characters and action sequences that all have to come together exactly right to leave the reader satisfied.

What was your research process like for this book?

I love to include the cool, unique features of a setting in my stories. I visited Burg Eltz in Germany years ago and had fun including some of the history behind the symbols in the castle. I have a German heritage and speak German, so it was fun to include some of that in the story, too. I've also been a USCG-licensed boat captain for 17+ years, so boating and water themes regularly appear in my books, like the anchor in the Speranza emblem and the boat/water scenes in Venice.

What is the most challenging part of the writing process? What advice would you offer aspiring authors?

For me, focus is the absolute hardest part. Our brains want to do anything but write, because writing is hard. I’ve developed various tricks and tools over the years—like timers, word counts, certain music, stashing my phone—that help me focus and get words on the page. My best advice is to figure out what tricks work for you and use them every time!

Which books and/or authors shaped you most as a writer?

As a child, I wanted to be Harriet the Spy. She was smart and courageous and had adventures and solved puzzles, all of which appealed to me, just as the Nancy Drew books did. As a teen, I re-read Gone With the Wind at least once a year. All of these stories featured strong women and were written by authors who pulled me into the worlds they created in ways that captivated me and have never let go.

Do you have any new projects you are currently working on?

I am almost finished with the next Speranza Team novel, in which the team must find a priceless, centuries-old treasure—that is said to discern motives—in order to thwart ruthless treasure hunters, stop a dangerous villain, and save the daughter of one of the Speranza Team members.

About the Author


Connie Mann
loves taking readers on heart-pounding, suspense-filled adventures featuring strong, determined women who fight for what they believe—and for those they love. She is the author of The Crown Conspiracy, the Florida Wildlife Warriors series, the Safe Harbor series, and several stand-alone titles. She is also a USCG-licensed boat captain and gets to introduce Florida visitors to dolphins and manatees, which is as much fun as it sounds like. Visit her online at conniemann.com and sign up for her newsletter for all the latest news.


What connected with you in the interview? Would you want to be part of a secret society who go on adventures and are the heroes?