The Lullaby Girl (Angie Pallorino #2) by Loreth Anne White-Review, Interview & Giveaway

THE LULLABY GIRL (Angie Pallorino #2) by Loreth Anne White-Review, Interview & Giveaway

The Lullaby Girl Banner

Angie Pallorino #2
by Loreth Anne White
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, murder, mystery, suspense

The Lullaby Girl / / B&N / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 14, 2017

Detective Angie Pallorino took down a serial killer permanently and, according to her superiors, with excessive force. Benched on a desk assignment for twelve months, Angie struggles to maintain her sense of identity—if she’s not a detective, who is she? Then a decades-old cold case washes ashore, pulling her into an investigation she recognizes as deeply personal.

Angie’s lover and partner, James Maddocks, sees it, too. But spearheading an ongoing probe into a sex-trafficking ring and keeping Angie’s increasing obsession with her case in check is taking its toll. However, as startling connections between the parallel investigations emerge, Maddocks realizes he has more than Angie’s emotional state to worry about.

Driven and desperate to solve her case, Angie goes rogue, risking her relationship, career, and very life in pursuit of answers. She’ll learn that some truths are too painful to bear, and some sacrifices include collateral damage.

But Angie Pallorino won’t let it go. She can’t. It’s not in her blood.


REVIEW: THE LULLABY GIRL is the second instalment in Loreth Anne White’s contemporary, adult ANGIE PALLORINO murder/mystery/suspense series focusing on Vancouver Police Department sex crimes Detective Angie Pallorino, and her partner/lover Detective Sergeant James Maddocks. THE LULLABY GIRL can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary but I recommend reading the series in order for backstory and cohesion.

Told from several third person perspectives including Angie and James THE LULLABY GIRL picks up immediately after the events of book one-The Drowned Girls-in which Angie Pallorino discovered that the life she lived has been based on a lie. Our heroine has recently been demoted and assigned desk duty in the face of violent take-down that was deemed excessive and unnecessary. Now with time on her hands, Angie begins a personal investigation into a thirty-year old cold case that will alter her life in more ways than one. Going rogue, and without the help of the man that she loves, Angie will come face to face with her past-a deadly encounter meant to end her life-a second time around.

Meanwhile, James Maddocks investigation into a sex-trafficking ring has caught the attention of the FBI and Canada’s RCMP. Partnering with the elite forces James will discover similarities between his case, and the one Angie has been investigating; and a potential showdown with the people in charge places Angie in the direct line of fire as she inserts herself where she doesn’t belong.

THE LULLABY GIRL is a story of betrayal and revenge, of power and control. The imagery and descriptive nature of the story line is dramatic and realistic. The emotional fall out is palpable and intense; the suspense is riveting and powerful. Loreth Anne White’s attention to detail is brilliant; the character development and world building is phenomenal; the energy and passion inspiring; the delivery fluent and artistic- a movie for the mind.

Reading Order and Previous Reviews
The Drowned Girls
The Lullaby Girl

Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Loreth and welcome to The Reading Café.

Congratulations on the recent release of THE LULLABY GIRL.We would like to start with some background information.

Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Loreth Anne White 2Follow: Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Website

Loreth: Thank you for having me here! I’m excited to share Book 2 in my Angie Pallorino series with everyone. I’m a South-African-born-and-raised Canadian who lives in the stunning but wet, cold, and grey mountains of the Pacific Northwest. While it’s chocolate-box beautiful I miss blue African skies and sunshine and the wild ocean like a small hole in my soul. Like most writers, I’ve always loved books and stories. I’m a wife, a mother, a pet and nature lover, and weather influences my moods far more than it probably should.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Loreth: I’ve been lucky to have been surrounded by people who fed me books and stories from a very young age. From my Dutch grandfather, to my mother and father, my English teachers at school, my lecturers at university. Over the years these people all kept opening doors with secret keys to worlds of imagination.

TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?

Loreth: Early on, when I first seriously sat down to write a novel, I was still working as a journalist. By far the most challenging hurdle was to come home after a day of overtime, deadlines, and solid writing at work, and then to try and write even more at night and over weekends while still balancing family commitments. Also, at that time, my girls were young, we were new immigrants who lived in a very small space. Our jobs were insecure, and I had no writing corner I could truly call my own—I wrote at a tiny table in our bedroom for the most part, where I could hear the noisy neighbours through the thin condo walls. Writing a novel, in some respects, seemed a ludicrous idea at the time. But I managed to sell that first one to New York, and while many more challenges lay ahead–and still do—it’s a journey I am pleased I started, and it’s a road I am happy to travel.

The Lullaby GirlTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of THE LULLABY GIRL and the Angie Pallorino series?

Loreth: My Detective Angie Pallorino starts out in The Drowned Girls working sex crimes. It’s her wheelhouse. She’s good at it, and fiercely-driven to do it for reasons she doesn’t fully understand at the start of the series. By the end of that first book Angie has taken down a serial killer, permanently, and according to her superiors, with excessive force. Now, in The Lullaby Girl, Angie is forced back into uniform and she’s been benched on a desk assignment for 12 months. This challenges Angie in every way possible—if she’s not a detective, who is she? Then a decades-old cold case washes ashore, and Angie is pulled into an investigation she recognizes as deeply, frighteningly, personal. It could be a key to her past.

Driven and desperate to solve her own cold case in spite of her probation, Angie goes rogue, risking her relationship with Detective Maddocks, her career, and her very life in pursuit of the answers to her origins. But Angie will learn that some truths might be too painful to bear, and some sacrifices include collateral damage. And she’ll have to make some hard choices.

TRC: What type of research/plotting do you do, and how long do you spend researching /plotting before beginning a book?

Loreth: It depends on the story. I read non-fiction books, biographies, watch videos, movies, interview experts, do courses, and attend workshops. For example, for my Angie series, I read text books written for cops on how to investigate various kinds of homicides and crimes. I’ve done workshops conducted by law enforcement personnel, spoken with cops, and attended events like the wonderful Writers Police Academy that comes complete with hands-on weapons experience. And of course, there’s the writing craft aspect as well—for that, also courses, workshops, and better than anything—reading other novels in the genre.

TRC: How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believeability?

Loreth: I can only hope the plots are unpredictable while still delivering on genre expectations! I think the key is to develop rich characters who have their own unique takes on a plot situation, and to allow a unique setting to become character as well. Combined with one’s own voice and one’s own world view, hopefully the result is something fresh.

TRC: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

Loreth: Hah! My editors and reviewers and readers all began to sit on my shoulder as I wrote. They’d jeer and point at the screen and yell: no, no ways can you do that! Oh no, that sucks, that’s silly!! …. I still struggle to shut them out and let my ‘girls in the basement’ loose–in private–on the first draft.

TRC: What was your hardest scene –ever-to write?

Loreth: I can’t think that there was any one scene particularly harder to write over any other. I do however find sex scenes challenging to craft because they need to deliver so much in a romance novel, in terms of not being gratuitous, in showing real character development, in driving the plot forward, and in still complicating or ramping up the suspense element of a romantic suspense.

TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

Loreth: Yes!

The Drowned GirlsTRC: When writing a story line, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

Loreth: They go hand-in-hand as the story develops.

TRC: How do you select the names of your characters?

Loreth: I do think about marketing and back cover copy when I consider names. I think about what might resonate with readers, and how some names might put readers off reading a story. Also, I try limit names starting with the same letter, or ones that sound too similar. And then I consider the sound of the name itself and try to match it to character. For example, for a certain kind of hero, or villain, one might want a harsher, or shorter sounding word. Or maybe something softer for a female character. Or, if she’s bad-ass, maybe certain names could undermine that tough quality. Then … at the final stage, an editor might still ask you to change a name! This happened to me with my book A Dark Lure. Cole, my hero, was initially named Hunter, and I was (rightly) asked to change this because of the hunting theme and metaphors already playing strongly through the novel. But to this day, when I get reader letters that mention Cole, I scratch my head thinking, who in the hell is Cole!? (to me, he’s still Hunter 🙂

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the story line so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?

Loreth: This is a big craft question! Bottom line, I think the key is to have real-time, blow-by-blow beats occurring in a scene–without summarizing–in order to make readers feel right there, part of the unfolding events. The summarizing–or introspection or ‘telling’–works better in the sequels that bridge the real-time scenes. It also helps to decide on who the focal character in each scene will be, and what his or her scene goal is. This goal, ideally, should be apparent to the reader at the outset, and the blows should come as that goal is obstructed beat-by-beat throughout that scene—either via dialogue/argument, events, or physical action. And at the end of that scene, that focal character should have arrived at a new direction, a next scene goal in mind.

TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?

Loreth: I used to. Now I prefer quiet. But I do listen to music in between, or before writing, to set mood/tone. And yes, I pick music I think might help amplify the tone I am seeking.

TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?

Loreth: That authors enjoy writing!

TRC: What is something that few, if anybody, knows about you?

Loreth: Ooh, I don’t know … I was a competitive swimmer and once eyed by coaches as a potential Olympic hopeful. I still love long-distance, open-water swimming and have trained in the past with guys like Lewis Pugh who have crossed the English Channel and who swim the most extreme polar ends of the earth. I enjoy cooking, but not baking. I cannot sing to save my life but wish I could. I don’t like ice cream.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Loreth: Right now I’m tackling a project that is challenging me in new ways. It requires more research than I’ve ever done. There is an epic romance at the core—a love triangle–where my characters face impossible choices against extraordinary circumstances. And there’s a mystery. It’s something that is really pushing me beyond my traditional comfort zone. Which is both a good thing and scary! I’m terribly excited about it so far, but the perennial writerly struggle remains: Will I ever be able to meet my own vision for this idea? Perhaps not. But as my mother-in-law used to say: if you aim for the star you might hit the top of the tree. Heh. So I’m trying.


● Favorite Food – cheese!

● Favorite Dessert – more cheese! (and dark chocolate and espresso coffee)

● Favorite TV Show – too many to name, but at the moment I am hooked on several great Nordic noir-ish crime series, and UK and other European crime shows.

● Last Movie You Saw – Victoria and Abdul

● Dark or Milk Chocolatedefinitely dark and fine and bitter

● Secret Celebrity Crush I love Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Emma Thompson – all wonderful celebrity role models who show women both young and old that females can age with ferocity and grace and embrace the wisdom acquired over years on this earth, and who are not shy of the wrinkles that come with that hard-won place.

● Last Vacation Destination – Australia

● Do you have any pets? – Hudson and Brunswick, my black labradog and my orange cat, and some wild birds who flap outside my window to be hand fed.

● Last book you read – Love In The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

TRC: Thank you Loreth for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of THE LULLABY GIRL. We wish you all the best.

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The Endangered Series 1-3 by S.L. Eaves-Reviews and Guest Post

The Endangered Series 1-3 by S.L. Eaves-Reviews and Guest Post

The Endangered Series

Endangered #3
by S.L. Eaves
Release Date: November 14, 2017
Genre: adult, paranormal, vampires, werewolves / / Amazon. uk /

The 3rd installment brings the The Endangered Series to a gripping conclusion that will keep you on the edge of your seat till the last page.

Seven years have passed since Lori exiled herself from her clan. Seven years without bloodshed, without demons, without torture, without premonitions. Seven years of peace and quiet in the civilian life she’s cultivated for herself.
Seven boring years.

Then Vega appears at her doorstep with alarming news: a former member of his clan is responsible for the recent string of homicides across the southwest and the Purebloods are holding her clan responsible. To make matters worse, this traitor is working with an enemy from Lori’s past who is hell bent on revenge.

Now she’s faced with returning to the world she’s tried so hard to escape in order to save the only family she has left. Lori finds unlikely allies in a slayer and a werewolf hybrid, both survivors of S&D Pharma’s experiments. Together they fight to stop the vampire’s killing spree and absolve her clan from the Pureblood’s wrath. That’s if a ghost from her past doesn’t succeed in stopping her first.


REVIEW: Wow !!!! What a great ending to a fantastic trilogy.

Seven years have passed since book 1 & 2 (which I really think you’ll need to read before the last book) seven long boring years, she hasn’t seen or heard from her clan since her self exile. The war seems to be over, casualties on both sides, and the humans are safe (for now)

But they need her help, a member of her old clan has been murdering humans, and her clan is being held to account.

But is it all as it seems ? Are there more questions than answers? And why do her clan want her help now ? And why her ?

The story moves along at the same fast pace as the last two books.

Lori seems a lot more confident now, but still has moments of doubt and self
loathing (things she did in the other two books) . Again the secondary characters are all well written, loved the interaction with the
hybrid werewolf, slayer and Lori. And the face from the past ?!?! Wasn’t expecting that one !! 😮

This book was full of many twists and turns that will keep you guessing as to what
will happen next. It wasn’t too hard to sit and read in one afternoon.

It was a shame to say goodbye to Lori and the world SL Eaves created. Could have happily read another book (or three) 😉

Copy Supplied for review

Reviewed by Julie B


The Endangered #1
by S.L. Eaves
Release Date: September 4 2014
Genre: adult, paranormal, vampires, werewolves / / /

Book One of The Endangered Series introduces Lori, a newly turned vampire who’s been pulled into the middle of a war against werewolves who are infecting humans and threatening to take out the last of their kind in the process.

S&D Pharmaceuticals is developing a new vaccine with sinister side effects. A viral outbreak has the humans begging for a cure and Striden, the CEO of S&D, offers a remedy that promises to cure the virus, but is engineered to turn its unsuspecting patients into werewolves.

The werewolves are opposed by an allegiance of vampires who, while initially out for revenge, stumble onto the wolves’ plans for mass infestation. Among the vampires is an ambitious rebel named Catch and his newly turned protégé, Lori. Catch brings this treacherous world to Lori’s doorstep and turns both their worlds upside-down in the process. Secrets are exposed, allegiances are formed, and blood is spilled as they do everything in their power to preserve both their own kind and their food supply.


REVIEW: This book is an extremely interesting and imaginative book. Totally different to anything I’ve read before. I liked the style of the book and it grabbed me from the very beginning, and right up till the end. It’s an extremely fast paced book with full of adventure. The characters were very well written and they held your attention from the start. This was the first time I have read any of the authors work and I really enjoyed it. The story flowed very well and I didn’t want it to end. There were many twists and turns.

So ….. vampires and werewolves are at war with each other, (humans aren’t aware of them as of yet) and werewolves are plotting for domination, the vampires plan to stop them.
If they don’t, then their meals (the humans) will disappear, and that’s the end of the vampire race.

Humans are being turned into werewolves, (a virus is spreading through the human population) and beg a huge pharmaceutical company to cure them, but the cure doesn’t work.

Lori use to be a human, but was “turned” by Catch. Lori is reluctantly “recruited” to the vampire cause. If she doesn’t help, she won’t last long without blood, and nor will her new family.
Catch is an unusual character (he’s never turned anyone, so it was nice to see how he grew as he taught Lori) Her vampire “family” are a great addition to the story, and you can’t help but hope they win against their enemies the werewolves.

The author had such a way with words, you could see yourself in The Covenant, or the many sword fights (I had myself ducking a few times😉) the world of vampires and werewolves according to author was a very fascinating world.

If you have a thing for vampires, or if you love a good action book. Then “The Endangered” is for you.

And I can’t wait for the next in the series.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Julie B


Dead and DamagedDEAD AND DAMAGED
The Endangered #2
by S.L. Eaves
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Genre: adult, paranormal, vampires, werewolves / / /

Book Two of The Endangered Series picks up with Lori attempting to track down the
source of stealth technology rogue vampires are using to hunt humans. Her pursuit
leads her into the arms of a government agency with similar objectives. A temporary
alliance is formed in an effort to stop the corporation responsible for putting the
technology in malignant hands. Their mission goes awry, however, and leaves Lori
with more enemies than friends.

Her situation worsens when Marcus learns that the corporation has also been working
with vampires to develop daylight suits and synthetic blood. He convinces his clan
that this organization and its infinite resources will be a valuable asset in the
evolution of their kind. They begin questioning Lori’s motives and Marcus takes the
opportunity to capitalize on their distrust. Consequently, Lori soon finds herself
on the run from her former clan and turns to Vega for help exposing the truth behind
Marcus and his new deceitful allies.


REVIEW: Oh My God !!!! I didn’t think the second book could get any better than the first
one ….. boy was I wrong. A few twists and turns and I’m on the edge of my seat.

In this second installment of The Endangered trilogy, we find Lori struggling to
find her place in the vampire world. (She was a human until turned by a vampire
called Catch)

Lori decides to side the with humans in a government agency, they want to help
destroy the werewolf plan of domination, (they designed a virus to turn humans into
werewolves) but this doesn’t help Lori, in fact, she becomes suspect in the vampire
world. (Lies and mistrust doesn’t help Lori’s cause) and then has to outrun both her
old vampire family and the werewolves.

Lori has grown since the last book, and her finding her vampire feet, has made for
great reading….. from taking bullets (which don’t kill vampires) to falling six
stories from a building (she lands on all fours like a cat). She still has her
doubts and would swap being a vampire to a human in a heartbeat, but she knows there
is no going back, so will do her best to rid the world of werewolves.

The cast of secondary characters are just as strong as the first book. And the
antagonist exchanges between Lori and Brixton. And the loyal friendship of Quinn
make great reading.

I would recommend you read “The Endangered” first, which will make “Dead and
Damaged” more sense.

I will be eagerly awaiting the next and last instalment.

Reviewed by Julie

Copy supplied for review

Guest Post

How The Endangered Became a Series by S.L. Eaves

When it was released, The Endangered was never intended to be more than a standalone novel. I’d signed a book deal with a now defunct scifi & fantasy house, Zharmae Publishing Press, and the book sold well for them (though clearly not well enough) and sat in the publisher’s top five the year it was released. On the heels of its modest success, they reached out to me with a series contract. This was met with panicked resistance from me initially. I work full-time and the first book came together after years of work and a very daunting editing process. To say I was less than receptive to the idea of going through the process again is an understatement. A series is a big commitment. But after some discussion with the staff at Zharmae and some coaxing by my editor to flush out the short story I’d tacked onto the first book as the epilogue, the beginnings of a concept for the sequel began to form. They were also very supportive in my desire to write a more grounded, spy-centric story.

For the second book in the series, Dead and Damaged, I focused on two major plot pieces from The Endangered: the death of a major character that would have a ripple effect across the remaining characters, impacting all their relationships, and a secret that would serve as a catalyst for Book Two’s main story. With these two notions in mind, I took the epilogue from the first book as a baseline and set out to writing. Roughly three months later I had the first draft of the sequel hammered out.

Once the ball got rolling, Dead and Damaged poured out much faster than I’d expected. The characters backstories and relationships were solidified in The Endangered. The world was built. Book Two was a breeze by comparison. I also opted to go with a primarily linear narrative based on one central storyline and told almost entirely from the main character’s point of view. Which helped improve the flow and pacing.

It was also a conscious effort on my part to correct certain “flaws” of the first book, which jumped around as a result of its origin – short stories strung together over several years didn’t flow as smoothly as I’d have preferred. When you have to force the puzzle pieces to fit the result is a weaker, unnatural structure.

Another important factor is it more accurately represented what I wanted to write about at the time – less Blade/Underworld and more Mission Impossible/Metal Gear Solid. Personally, I feel that you can tell when the author is having fun writing versus when they’re just trying to get it off their plate. While I enjoyed writing the stories and characters that would eventually form The Endangered, piecing together the book with a team of editors felt like a second job. But I learned a lot from that process and was better prepared to navigate those waters with the follow-up efforts.

I started working on Book Three, Prey till the End, during the writing and editing process for Dead and Damaged. Having the ability to anticipate future entries in the series gave me more flexibility with the story arcs and I feel both books benefitted. What I hadn’t anticipated was the publishing house shifting from pressuring me to crank out more entries in the series as quickly as possible to suddenly going dark. At one point I didn’t even think Dead and Damaged would be published. From a writing perspective, the train was on the tracks and I was plowing forward, with or without a publisher. Eventually Book Two did get released. And by this point I was roughly halfway through the manuscript for Book Three. Then a few months later the publishing house closed. I debated shopping the series around, but going through the whole process of re-releasing the first two books in the series (and changing it into what the new publisher envisioned – because that comes with the territory when they own the rights) was less than appealing. Instead I opted to complete Book Three and independently publish the series.

This also impacted Book Three’s story because I decided that I did not wish to continue the series independently. For better or for worse, Prey till the End, the third installment in The Endangered Series is my most ambitious piece of writing to date. With it, I had two main stories I wanted to tell. The challenge was intertwining and eventually concluding them. My other objectives with Prey till the End were to address the aftermath from the events of previous books as well as tie up loose ends. Part of this involved utilizing the characters established in previous books; taking their stories further, giving them new challenges and new environments to play in, while also added a couple new characters to the mix to keep things fresh.

I loved telling this story. Loved. But I struggled mightily to make it work. It’s fair to say only twenty-thirty percent of what I wrote made it into the final manuscript. Tons got cut. Mainly as a result of the story’s evolution during the writing process. The story I initially envisioned didn’t quite work on paper. For example, I had one chapter outlined and storyboarded out, then two or three paragraphs in I realized it wouldn’t work. As mentioned earlier, I’d learned with the first book not to force in the puzzle pieces. The result was much smoother and plausible than my initial idea.

One challenge when you’re three books into a series is keeping it interesting and unpredictable. For instance, I initially intended to rekindle a relationship from Dead and Damaged, but found it had run its course and became bland, so I went a different direction to keep the characters compelling. I took the same approach with the main character’s interaction with a major character from Book One. The two characters rarely shared the same space “on screen” in The Endangered (and when they did they were fighting) so I wanted to give them more dialogue together and let the story develop naturally based on their interactions. Decisions like that helped drive the narrative to new directions.

Ultimately, the biggest hurdle was the conclusion. With the last book in a series you feel the weight of the whole series; you want to give the characters a satisfactory send off, to solve open mysteries, to tie up loose ends, and manage relationships/arcs while staying true to the characters and their journeys. All without repeating events or exposition from previous books or seeming cliché, contrived or tedious. I really felt that burden with Prey till the End. Tying all the books together to create a cohesive series turned out to be less challenging than wrapping everything up. But I tried to trust in the characters to lead me to where they needed to go. I was along for the ride during much of the writing process. And hopefully readers will join me in this journey and enjoy reading this series as much as I enjoyed writing it.

about the author

SL EavesFollow: Goodreads /Website / Twitter / Facebook

S. L. Eaves is a Philadelphia area native who received undergraduate degrees in film and writing from University of Pittsburgh. She returned to Philadelphia to earn her MBA in marketing from Drexel University while freelancing as a writer and brand consultant. She penned the first two books of The Endangered Series for Zharmae Publishing and went on to complete the series independently after the publishing house closed. Presently, she works in marketing and escapes into the world of fiction every chance she gets.


A Secret Scottish Christmas (Agents of the Crown #4) by Regan Walker-Review and Guest Post

 Secret Scottish Christmas (Agents of the Crown #4) by Regan Walker-Review and Guest Post

A Secret Scottish Christmas / / / /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 6, 2017

Spies and Scots and Shipmasters, oh my!

Scotland 1819 – Twin brothers Nash and Robbie of Powell and Sons Shipping, London, sail with their fellow Agents of the Crown to Scotland for a secret celebration of Christmastide, a holiday long considered pagan by the Scottish Kirk. But more than Christmas is being kept secret. The two brothers have accepted an assignment from the Home Secretary Lord Sidmouth to ferret out a fugitive fomenting rebellion among the Scots.

Aileen Stephen, the only daughter of an Aberdeen shipbuilder, had to be clever, devious and determined to gain her place in the family business. She succeeded to become a designer of highly coveted ships. One night, a man’s handsome face appears to her in a dream. When two men having that same face arrive on a ship full of Londoners, Ailie wonders what her second sight is telling her. Is the face she saw a portender of the future, a harbinger of danger, or both? And which of the two Englishmen is the one in her dream?

Older than Nash by a mere five minutes, Robbie has always been protective of his twin. When he realizes Nash is attracted to the sister of their Scottish host, he thinks to help matters along. But Nash wants no help from his brother, not where Ailie Stephen is concerned because Robbie is attracted to the girl himself!

Two brothers vie for the affection of the Scottish lass but only one stirs her passion. Which one will it be? And what will she do when she learns both are spies?


REVIEW: A Secret Scottish Christmas begins with a group of people traveling from England to Scotland to celebrate Christmastide, albeit a secret celebration, with friends. Once the group arrives in Scotland, it doesn’t take long for the Powell twins, Nash and Robbie, to notice not only Aileen’s beauty, but also her fiery spirit.

As the story progresses, the twins put their secret plan into motion, in hopes of making their mission a successful one. However, as the twins get to know Ailie, it becomes apparent that one is more enamored than the other when said twin starts questioning their mission altogether.

A Secret Scottish Christmas is a great addition to the Agents of the Crown series. Ailie is a wonderfully written character. She is intelligent and feisty, but also has a loving heart for those she holds dear. The Powell twins were wonderfully written as well. I love the fact that they love each other as you would expect, but what drew me in was their sense of independence. Regan Walker did a phenomenal job of making each one of them their own person with their own identities. I also loved that Ailie picked up on their nuances that were written so brilliantly. Walker has also, once again, woven actual historical events into her story seamlessly and built a world that you can vividly see in your mind. Whether it is the sound of a dog barking, feeling the wind in your face as you sail away or seeing a landscape covered in new snow, you will find yourself noticing all of the details she meticulously sets for us to truly feel as if we are a part of. Reading Regan Walker’s books is, at least for me, like watching a movie. You are swept into her world from the very beginning and you truly do hate for it to end. Added to all of this the fact that we get to see so many couples from previous books throughout the entire story makes it one of my favorites of everything she has written. If you’re a fan of historical romance, you will most definitely love A Secret Scottish Christmas. There is a beautifully developed romance, political intrigue and such well developed characters that you’ll swear this is your favorite as well….until the next one. Well done, Regan Walker! Very, very well done!

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M

Guest Post-Black and Blue

Scot, Scotsman, Scotch or Scottish… how to refer to the Scots?

By Regan Walker

For my new Christmas Regency, A Secret Scottish Christmas, I wanted to make sure I referred to the Scots as they would want, so I did a bit of scouting. What I discovered was that the terminology can be confusing. Robert Burns, Scotland’s beloved poet, referred to the people of Scotland as “Scots”.

As you know from reading my stories set in Medieval Scotland, the people have always been “Scots” and their kings were never Kings of Scotland, but Kings of the Scots, the people being of first importance, not the land.

The Scots refer to their stories and language as “Scottish” but, in past times, they used the word “Scotch” in place of “Scottish” or “Scot”, something not done today.

In Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character by Edward Bannerman Ramsay, first published in 1857, the author looks back “forty years” (which would be to the Regency era) and describes the unique “Scottish dialect” spoken at the time. In one place, he says, “I recollect old Scottish ladies and gentlemen who really spoke Scotch.” He also refers to the people of Scotland as “the Scotch” and describes himself as “an out and out Scotchman”. So there you have it. Clear as haggis… er, mud.

I hope you enjoy my Christmas story set on the Northeast coast of Scotland. The people there in 1819 would have spoken a unique dialect, except in prominent families such as the Stephens, who spoke the King’s English. (The journals of the Scottish upper classes read like ones written by the English at the time). They might have spoken with an accent, of course. Most of the common people would have spoken the Doric dialect. Since Doric would be hard for readers to understand, I used it sparingly and sprinkled the book with a few Scottish expressions to give you a flavor for the local speech, particularly in the taverns and for the heroine’s grandfather from Stonehaven.

About The Author Black and Blue

Regan WalkerRegan Walker is an award-winning, Amazon #1 bestselling author of Regency, Georgian and Medieval romances. A lawyer turned full-time writer, she has six times been featured on USA TODAY’s HEA blog and nominated six times for the prestigious RONE award (her novel, The Red Wolf’s Prize won Best Historical Novel for 2015 in the Medieval category). Her novel The Refuge: An Inspirational Novel of Scotland won the Gold Medal in the Illumination Awards in 2017. And her novel To Tame the Wind won the International Book Award for Romance Fiction in 2017.

Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government have given Regan a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown”. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding sovereign who taps his subjects for special assignments. Each of her novels features real history and real historical figures. And, of course, adventure and love.

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Totally His (Opposites Attract #3) by Erin Nicholas-Review, Q&A, Excerpt & Giveaway Tour

Totally His (Opposites Attract #3) by Erin Nicholas-Review,Q & A, Excerpt & Giveaway Tour


Opposites Attract 3
by Erin Nicholas
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Genre: adult, contemporary, romance

Totally His / / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo / ibooks / Google Play /BAM /

About the book: October 31, 2017

Actress Sophie Birch is used to having to look out for herself. So when her theater catches fire and a big guy scoops her up into his arms to save her, she’s going to fight every step of the way. Even if he’s a cop. And really sexy. And his arms feel oh-so-good.

Finn Kelly can’t help but appreciate how good the woman in his arms looks in her sexy pink lingerie. Even if she’s currently resisting arrest.

But as the two get to know each other, they’re both surprised by the things Finn is willing to do to get closer to her. And when Sophie’s estranged father arrives in town and starts causing trouble, the stage is set for disaster…unless Finn can convince her that, for once in her life, she has someone to lean on.


REVIEW: Totally His begins with Finn Kelly arriving at a theater fire to help with crowd control. One of the first things he spots is a woman in pink lingerie sneaking into the burning theater. He heads in to make the woman vacate the premises, only to be met with vehement resistance. Once he literally picks her up to get her out of the building, he takes her outside, only to lose track of her pretty quickly. It doesn’t take long for him to spot her, or someone whom he thought was her. He approaches “her” and immediately realizes that he has been duped. The woman who had donned the pink robe was not the woman he rescued from the building. Go figure….

Sophie Birch is knows she risked a lot going back into her burning theater to rescue a script that was an original written by her good friend, Angie. But, it was that good. She also a little side tracked with thoughts of the sexy as hell cop that carried her to safety. Those thoughts disappear as her estranged father, Frank, shows up looking for a place to stay and some quick cash.

It doesn’t take long for Sophie and Finn to realize that their lives are intertwined in ways that neither knew about. Once Finn mobilizes family, friends and co-workers to help Sophie repair the damage to her theater, Sophie starts to do something she swore she’d never do: long for a family and support system that she’s never had. Determined to not fall for Finn, Sophie tries to keep her distance from him, but ends up failing miserably. As Finn realizes that he’s fallen hard for Sophie, he vows to do everything in his power to keep her safe and make her totally his……..

Totally His is a wonderfully written story. Sophie is independent, feisty and loyal. She’s been her own support system for so long that she has a lot of trouble opening up and letting people in. Finn is caring, loyal and steadfast in his belief that he needs to give back and try to help everyone in need. When the two of them come together, along with his huge, boisterous family, it doesn’t take Sophie long to be overwhelmed. Throw in her player father, whom she tries to protect everyone from, and you’ve got a great story. The chemistry between Finn and Sophie leaps off of the page. Their banter is engaging and funny. The secondary characters only add to the whole experience. Totally His pulls at your heart strings, but it also makes you swoon with the sizzling romance and humor. I didn’t know this was the third book in a series until I went to write this review, so it can totally be read as a standalone, as I didn’t feel like I was missing any background information that made the story seem out of sorts. This is the first I’ve read by this author, but it will not be the last. Well done, Erin Nicholas! Very well done!

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M

TotallyHis-Quote-1 (1)


Finn would have noticed her even if she hadn’t been wearing hot-pink lingerie. And nothing else.
He really would have. She was totally his type—brunette and curvy and, apparently, a little crazy. As evidenced by the fact that she was trying to sneak into a burning building. He did seem to be attracted to crazy. No matter how hard he tried not to be.
He watched the woman stop at the east corner of the Birch Community Playhouse, the one farthest from where the firefighters were working. Then he frowned as she slipped into the shadows along the side of the theater and out of sight.
Dammit. He started after her.
As one of the cops on scene, he had to keep the area clear for the firefighters and keep the crowd of onlookers safe. If one of them happened to have a great body and be dressed in nothing but a pink bra-and-panty set, well, he’d just call that a perk. And as he jogged across the street, Finn couldn’t help but wonder if she was in costume or if the alarm had caught her in the midst of a wardrobe change. If that was her outfit for the show, he might need to buy a ticket.
He turned the corner to the back of the building and looked around. He didn’t see her. She’d gone inside. Dammit. He climbed up the four steps that led to the back door of the theater.
Finn touched the door and found it cool. It seemed that the flames were still contained to the wall on the other end of the theater, but it was a mistake to assume anything when fire was involved.
He stepped inside and pulled the flashlight from his belt, then shone it back and forth. He turned a full circle, not sure where to go next. Just then Finn heard a door slam somewhere behind him. He swung toward the sound just in time to see the woman step out from a room.
Her eyes went wide when she saw him.
“Boston PD! Stop!” Finn shouted.
She had covered up. Kind of. She now wore a robe, short, sheer, and unbelted. Which really did nothing to cover his view of her panties and bra. Or all that skin.
And maybe that was why she suddenly took off at a run.
Finn stared after her for a moment, a little stunned. She was actually running from him?
The woman made it to the other end of the lobby and through one of the doors leading into the main theater before Finn got to her. He grabbed the door as it was swinging shut, nearly smashing his fingers. The lights were off in the inner theater but, as he plunged into the darkness, he got a big whiff of whatever body spray or perfume she wore. He took a deep breath. It was nice. Lemony. Sweet and…
Jesus. Finn scowled and turned his flashlight back on. He was thinking about how she smelled? How about the smell of smoke that was going to be chasing them both pretty soon?
“Hey!” he called into the theater. You have to come out, ma’am. It’s not safe for you to stay in the building.”
“Just give me a damned minute!” she shouted.
“I’m sorry, ma’am, I can’t do that,” Finn said.
“I have to find something. Then I’m coming right out.”
“Ma’am, I will have to remove you myself if you don’t come out immediately.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake!” he heard her exclaim.
“Ma’am, this is your last warning. Stop what you’re doing and come with me.”
Enough of this. Finn stalked over to her, put a hand around her upper arm, and turned to remove her from the building.
She dug her heels in, though, pulling against his hold. “Hey, you can’t—”
“Oh, yes I can,” he told her calmly, careful to keep his eyes off her body. The heat from her skin had immediately soaked through the thin robe, and Finn felt it traveling from his palm up his arm. “I’ve given you several opportunities to cooperate.”
“You’re arresting me?” she asked.
“Are you doing something that you need to be arrested for?” he asked, moving her toward the door, even with her resisting.
“No! I need to get something. It’s very important. It belongs to a friend of mine. It’s irreplaceable.”
“Ma’am,” he said calmly, “don’t make me carry you out of here.”
She pulled against his grip and leaned all her weight into fighting the forward motion across the room.
Well, shit. He’d kind of figured it would come to this, but he wasn’t sure he was ready to touch her more. Still, it didn’t look as if he had a lot of choice. Reminding himself that he was a professional, he bent and hooked an arm behind her knees, looped the other around her back, and lifted her.
She gasped, and for a moment she didn’t fight. And he thought maybe the hard part was over. But as he headed out the door, trying to ignore how warm and soft and fucking lemony she was, she started to wiggle.



Q & A

Erin Nicholas CREDIT Lifetouch Portrait Studios Inc

TRC: Hi Erin. Congratulations on the release of TOTALLY HIS. We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Erin: Well, I’m a mom of two, wife of one, cat and coffee lover, who spends 10 hours a day with imaginary people ☺ I grew up in a house of book lovers and I’ve been writing my entire life—started out with short stories in elementary school—and published my first contemporary romance, my true love, in 2009.

TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?

Erin: I’ve always been a writer. I don’t remember a time I wasn’t making stories up! I’m sure a lot of it came from the stories I loved as a child and the fact that both of my parents were rarely seen without a book! Books were our rewards for things growing up—good grades, etc.—so a love for books and stories was engrained from a very young age. I’m so grateful for that!

TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?

Erin: I’m very independent so it’s hard to sometimes have a lot of people weighing in on a project ☺ I guess that would be one thing! Lol! Another is dealing with negative reviews and harsh critics. I’ve gotten a tougher skin over the years, but those can sometimes really sting even now.

TRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of TOTALLY HIS and the OPPOSITES ATTRACT series? How many books do you have planned for the series.

Erin: There are three books in the series… Totally His is number three, and the final one. The idea game when a friend and I were talking about The Big Bang Theory and how fun it would be for the roles to be reversed with Geeky Girls and Hot Guys ☺ And that became our tagline for the series… “The Big Bang Theory in reverse!” My daughter and her “geeky” interests (which I think are just really cool) – like superheroes, online communities, and theater – was the inspiration for all the heroines in this series. There’s a little piece of her in each of them.

TRC: What was your hardest scene ever to write?

Erin: Oh wow. The hardest scene ever? It’s every dark moment—that point in the story when all seems lost—in every book! I hate those. In fact, I usually write them early on so I get them over with and know where I’m going with the story ☺ The hardest one of those in any of my books? Wow, maybe the one in Going Down Easy, which is a new book coming out in March. The hero is completely guilt-ridden over finding out his young son is being bullied at school. That was really hard to write about what happened to his son and then the hero’s reaction to it and the way he pushes the heroine away because of it.

TRC: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of TOTALLY HIS.

About the author

Erin Nicholas is the New York Times bestselling author of sexy contemporary romances. Her stories have been described as toe-curling, enchanting, steamy and fun. She loves to write about reluctant heroes, imperfect heroines and happily ever afters. She lives in the Midwest with her husband who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books, her kids who will never read the sex scenes in her books, and family and friends who say they’re shocked by the sex scenes in her books (yeah, right!).

Twitter: @ErinNicholas

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Forever romance


The Sea King by C.L. Wilson – Review, Interview and Giveaway

The Sea King by C.L. Wilson – Review, Interview and Giveaway


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The Sea KingAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository

He wasn’t supposed to choose her…

Seafaring prince Dilys Merimydion has been invited to court the three magical princesses of Summerlea. To eradicate the pirates threatening Calberna and to secure the power of the Sea Throne, Dilys vows to return home with a fierce warrior-queen as his bride. But politics has nothing to do with unexpected temptation.

She didn’t dare wed him…

A weathermage like her sisters, Gabriella Coruscate’s gentleness exemplifies the qualities of her season name, Summer. Yet her quiet poise conceals dangerous powers she cannot begin to wield. Better to live without excitement, she reasons, than risk her heart and lose control— until an irresistible Sealord jolts her awake with a thunderclap of raw desire.

Until evil threatens everything they hold dear…

When pirates kidnap Summer and her sisters, Dilys is in a desperate quest to save the woman he loves. Only by combining his command of the seas with the unleashed fury of Summer’s formidable gifts can they defeat their brutal enemies and claim the most priceless victory of all: true love.




The Sea King by C.L. Wilson is the 2nd book in her Weathermages of Mystral series.  I have been waiting anxiously for this book, as I loved The Winter King.  Once again, C.L Wilson gives us a fantastic adventure, filled with amazing characters throughout.

In The Sea King, Dilys Merimydion, our hero, is the prince of Calberna, where his mother the Queen has informed him that it is time for him to take a wife.  Despite the council trying to make him wait years for a young girl to growup, the Queen overrules and Dilys, with his warriors heads for lands of the Ice King (Wynter, our previous book hero), to court one of the three magical princesses of Summerlea (Summer, Spring & Autumn). Right from the start, Dilys can feel an attraction to Summer, who does everything to push him away.  Dilys does not understand, and after much frustration, he decides to try to court one of the other two princesses.

Gabriella Coruscate (Summer) has had a secret all her life.  She has powers so strong and terrifying, which she has been able to control it, but at times when she has had to use it to protect herself, and is horrified at the results.  She is determined to not fall in love or get married; as it is too dangerous for anyone to accidently get hurt from her tremendous powers.  She realizes in a short time, that Dilys is indeed her mate, and she fights with all her being to her feelings and force him to court either Spring or Autumn.

Dilys is also worried about the attacks on his people from an unknown pirate named Shark, who is threatening those he loves back home.  After a bit, he does befriend both Spring and Autumn and they will both help him try to court the woman who calls to his heart, Gabriella.

This is where I need to point out some mixed feelings.  In the first half of the book, I was not a fan of Summer, as she was mean and nasty to Dilys.  I understand her fears, but he was so patient, so sweet and desperately trying to help her.  But she was extremely stubborn, and even when she finally admits her feelings to him, she refuses to marry him.  Very frustrating.  That will change later.

When Dilys leaves for a few days to go with his men to help on an attack against one of his ships, all three of princesses are kidnapped.  At this point, the story becomes centered on the pirate ship and Dilys attempt to find them.  This was very exciting, and at the same time a bit depressing.  The adventure was so well done by Wilson, and I am amazed how she was able to put all the pieces together. Keep in mind that this is not a short book, and most fantasy books are big.  My other mixed feeling was how the princesses were treated by the pirate, especially Summer, whom we spent most of the time with.  But unfortunately, in Fantasy we come to expect this.  As I said, that part was depressing.

When Dilys finally rescues Summer, things will change for all of them.  The hunt is on to find the pirate, and the two remaining sisters.  Summer is vengeful, which causes her powers to rise.  Dilys will see why Summer is afraid to love and marry him, but he will prove to her that together she can control her powers.

What follows is an exciting pulse pounding journey of survival, betrayal & battles against terrible villains in a fight to the finish in a wild mind boggling race to save them all. There were so many twists and surprises along the way that had us on the edge of our seat afraid to miss anything.  I loved Dilys throughout the whole book, and thankfully by a bit past the half way point, I loved Gabriella too.  Once she opened herself to love Dilys, and learn to handle her powers, she made a fantastic heroine.  The big question:  Will they survive?

The last third of the book was such an exhilarating and emotional ride.  Wilson also gives us two epilogues that will drive the next book in this series.  I can’t wait!  Bravo to C.L. Wilson for a fantastic wonderful story.

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher

Catching Up

Hi, Cheryl.  Thank you for taking the time to re-visit us at The Reading Café to discuss what you are currently working on and what we have to look forward to.

TRC: For those who have not read your first book in this series , The Winter King, can you please give us a brief description of the premise of  Weathermages of Mystral?

C.L. Wilson:  The Weathermages of Mystral is a fantasy romance series set in a world where everyone possesses some type of innate magic related to the world around them.  At present, the series focuses on the children of a weathermage known as the Summer King.   All of his children possess sun-related weather magic – they can generate heat, sense the location of the sun no matter the time of day or night, influence the weather with their gifts.  Khamsin, his youngest, possesses the power to summon storms.  His daughters Spring, Summer, and Autumn have weather gifts associated with the changing of the seasons for which they are named.  His son, Falcon, like his father has the ability to help regulate the weather across the kingdom, ensuring appropriate rainfall and sunshine for the various orchards, vineyards, and farmlands throughout Summerlea.  They use these gifts to ensure the fertility and prosperity of their lands.

As I expand the world beyond the children of the Summer King, I’m also exploring the other kinds of magic that exists on Mystral.

TRC: Your diehard fans have been waiting to find out when we can expect your next book, The Sea King.  We are thrilled to note that you do have a date…. October 31, 2017.  Will you please give us a brief description about The Sea King

C.L. Wilson: THE SEA KING features a hero and heroine who both appeared in THE WINTER KING.  The hero is Dilys Merimydion.  He came to Wintercraig as an invader but ended up fighting alongside Wintercraig forces to defeat the Ice King. In doing so, he earned the right for he and his men to return to Wintercraig and court potential wives.  

Dilys, royal prince of the island queendom of Calberna, has come to Wintercraig to court the Seasons of Summerlea.  His mother, the Queen, sent him to bring back home a bride, but although her advisors insist he should choose either Spring or Autumn—both confident, powerful women worthy of mothering Calberna’s next queen—it is shy, gentle Summer, widely acknowledged as the least powerful of all the Seasons, who captures his interest and won’t let go. 

But Summer isn’t the sweet, gentle Season everyone believes her to be.  She has a secret—a dark, deadly power so dangerous she dare never risk its release.  That is why she’s spent a lifetime hiding her true self behind serene masks, suppressing strong emotions and avoiding anything that threatens her ruthless self-control. Because like her father, whose love for his wife turned to madness after her death, when Summer loves, she loves too much. 

Then Calberna’s golden-eyed prince steps onto Wintercraig shores in search of a wife, and one shared look between them sends her reeling.  With unshakeable certainty, Summer knows Dilys Merimydion is all she could ever want, every happiness she could ever dream of, the greatest love she could ever know…and that makes him the one thing she can never allow herself to have.

TRC:  On your site you noted that The Sea King is the 2nd book of Weathermages of Mystral series, and the 1st book of Seasons of Summerlea trilogy.  Can you please explain how this will work? 

C.L. Wilson: Each book in the Seasons of Summerlea trilogy is a standalone fantasy romance featuring one of Khamsin’s three sisters, Spring, Summer, or Autumn.  Each book will have complete, standalone romance; but all three books will also be connected by an overarching plotline.  Book 1 of the trilogy, THE SEA KING, is Dilys and Summer’s story.  Book 2 of the trilogy will be THE JAGUAR KING where Spring finds her mate, and book 3, THE DRAGON KING, is Autumn’s story.   

Because the royal family of Summerlea has been in power in an unbroken familial line for millennia, they would have intermarried with numerous other, highly magical families…so I’m having a lot of fun with the Seasons’ books, playing around with the other kinds of magic they have inherited.

TRC: How many books are you anticipating for Weathermages of Mystral series, or does it end with The Sea King, moving on to the Seasons of Summerlea?

C.L. Wilson: I don’t have an answer for that.  The Seasons of Summerlea trilogy is part of the Weathermages series.  I’d at least like to do a book for all of the Summer King’s five children.  (That includes Falcon, who needs to redeem himself.)  But there are other characters I’ve met along the way who interest me and make me want to discover their stories as well.

You have previously mentioned that you wanted to go back to the Fading Lands and do stories on two of your heroes…Belliard and Gaelen.  Is this still on your agenda?  Will we going back to the Fading Lands?

C.L. Wilson: Oh, yes.  I definitely intend to write their stories.  In fact, I’ve got three Fading Lands projects in the works right now – Bel’s book, a Melliandra short story/novella, and a 3rd full length novel about a Fey warrior and the mysterious Sief from the Pale (a tribal people we haven’t seen yet).   I’ve done some basic plotting for Gaelen’s book, and it’s on the To Be Written list as well, but I have yet to write a single scene.

TRC: ‘Happily claps hands’

TRC:  Would you like to share with us on what you are currently working and what else you have planned for the future?

C.L. Wilson: See above.  I’m also working on JAGUAR KING and in the planning stages for DRAGON KING.

TRC:  Would you like to tell our members and fans of The Fading Lands about your Tairen Soul Merchandise Line?

C.L. Wilson: Thanks for asking.  An artist friend of mine, the very talented wildlife artist, Heather Carr, have teamed up to offer art prints and other merchandise based on my books.  We sell at conventions, such as DragonCon, and I have an online store, , where I sell prints of her art, plush toys and merchandise, as well as personalized autographed copies of my books.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

C.L. Wilson: I’d just like to thank every reader who continues to support me by buying my books, and for every reader who keeps asking me for the next story.  You have all kept me going even when things are difficult.  So thanks, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart. 

TRC: Thank you, Cheryl for giving us an update on “The Sea King”, as well as what we can look forward to in the future.   It was a pleasure having you visit us, we look forward to spreading the news on The Sea King.






C.L. Wilson’s publisher is generously offering a signed paper copy of THE WINTER KING (First book in series) to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

3. LIKE us on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.

4. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.

5. Like C.L. Wilson on Facebook for an additional entry.

6. Giveaway is open to USA/Canada only.

7. Giveaway runs from October 31 – November 4, 2017


Avon Books









Faithless Elector / Dark Network by James McCrone-Reviews, Guest Post & Giveaway

Faithless Elector/ Dark Network (Imogen Trager Series 1 & 2) by James McCrone-Reviews, Guest Post & Giveaway

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Dark Network
Imogen Trager #2
by James McCrone
Genre: adult, contemporary, political suspense, thriller
Release Date: October 20, 2017

Dark Network / / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date October 20, 2017

The FBI is leaking, the Attorney General is being undermined, politicians are spinning, and social media is in an uproar. No, it’s not another day at the White House, but the world of Dark Network.

Imogen Trager, the determined heroine of the “highly suspenseful” Faithless Elector is still searching for the truth, and the nation is without a president-elect. She’ll have to fight against time, a sinister network—even her own colleagues—to defeat the conspiracy to steal the presidency. Left on the edges of the investigation, she joins forces with Trey Kelly, an FBI network specialist, also a Bureau outsider. Together, they struggle to find the back door the conspirators may have left unlocked. They’ll have to hurry. There’s only a month until the inauguration of a new president..


REVIEW: DARK NETWORK is the second installment in James McCrone’s contemporary, adult IMOGEN TRAGER political drama, suspense thriller series focusing on FBI Agent Imogen ‘Gen’ Trager and the investigation into the electoral process of the United States of America. DARK NETWORK can be read as a stand alone but I recommend reading the series in order as Dark Network picks up immediately after the events of book one Faithless Elector.

NOTE: If you have not read FAITHLESS ELECTOR there may be some spoilers in my review. DARK NETWORK and FAITHLESS ELECTOR are fictional story lines and do not reflect the current political situation in the USA (conspiracy theories, aside).

Told from several third person points of view DARK NETWORK begins three days after the events of book one Faithless Elector wherein Agent Imogen Trager and Professor Duncan Calder uncovered a political nightmare of voter tampering and murder for hire in an effort to elect Republican James Christopher to the highest office in the land.

Imogen Trager has been held in seclusion by the FBI where she now faces an interrogation about the events leading to the death of rogue FBI agent Thomas Kurtz, and the shooting of her boss Agent Doug Pollack, and lover Duncan Calder. With the mysterious deaths of seven ‘electors’ and the murder of three more ‘faithless electors’ Imogen and the FBI will continue to search for the ‘dark network’ responsible starting with the voter discrepancies in Illinois. Imogen’s own investigation will pull in the FBI’s underground IT specialist Trey Kelly allowing the Agents and investigators to follow a group of unfamiliar names with connections to high ranking officials both in and out of the political eye. What ensues is the intense and thrilling manhunt as, once again, the ongoing discovery of a broken trail of bodies will hopefully lead to the people in charge.

DARK NETWORK looks at the American electoral process including the damaging potential of voter fraud; of ballot stuffing; threats and intimidation at the highest levels; and a murderous plot to ensure the ‘right’ candidate is ‘elected’ to the job. The intrigue is heart pounding; the action is full throttle; the threats are real but the sources indeterminate. The FBI knows there is a mole amid their ranks but uncovering the truth reveals a deeper connection to an unnamed source.

James McCrone pulls the reader into an exciting and tension filled tale that will captivate your imagination; blow your mind about potential conspiracies; and make you wonder when it all went wrong. Fiction that reads like reality; reality that feels like fiction-you be the judge where the black and white slowly bleeds into grey.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy


(Imogen Trager #1)
by James McCrone
Genre: adult, contemporary, political, suspense, thriller / / B&N / BAM / Chapters Indigo /

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date March 2016

Everyone thought the election was over… A young researcher uncovers a series of mysterious deaths among Electors and must race against time and a secret, deadly efficient conspiracy. In an era characterized as cynical and paranoid, Faithless Elector poses a creditable threat to the integrity of the electoral process and the selection of the president. Faithless Elector is a timely, compelling novel for our turbulent times.


REVIEW: FAITHLESS ELECTOR is the first installment in James McCrone’s contemporary, adult IMOGEN TRAGER political suspense thriller series focusing on FBI Agent Imogen ‘Gen’ Trager and the investigation into the electoral process of the USA. This is thirty two year old FBI Agent and statistician Imogen Trager and forty seven year old Political Science Professor Duncan Calder’s story line.

NOTE: FAITHLESS ELECTOR is a fictional story line and does not reflect the current political situation in the USA (conspiracy theories, aside).

SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION and DEFINITIONS: In the USA ‘Faithless Electors’ are members of the Electoral College who do not vote for their party’s designated candidate.( )

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. A state’s entitled allotment of electors equals the number of members in its Congressional delegation: one for each member in the House of Representatives plus two for the State’s Senators. The meeting of the electors takes place on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December after the presidential election. The electors meet in their respective states, where they cast their votes for President and Vice President on separate ballots. Each state’s electoral votes are counted in a joint session of Congress on the 6th of January in the year following the meeting of the electors. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

The President-Elect takes the oath of office and is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th in the year following the Presidential election.( )

Told from several third person points of view including Imogen Trager and Duncan Calder FAITHLESS ELECTOR follows the investigation into the fictional 2016 US Presidential election wherein Diane Redmond is elected the first female president of the United States with an Electoral College difference of only four votes 271- 267. Graduate student Matthew Yamashita, under the mentorship of Professor Duncan Calder, begins his doctoral dissertation on party identification beginning with an analysis of the recent election, and the examination of the members of the Electoral College only to discover a series of anomalies including the ‘accidental’ deaths of seven electors. Matthew’s research will catch the attention of some powerful people who will leave a trail of bodies in their wake including Matthew himself. Enter Duncan Calder and his former Political Science student FBI Agent Imogen Trager who will be caught in a storm of mystery and intrigue involving the FBI, Attorney General, and the powerful political elite.

We are introduced to grad student Matthew Yamashita; Imogen’s FBI partner Agent Thomas Kurtz, and her boss Agent Doug Pollack.

FAITHLESS ELECTOR reads like a sociological study; a political science and statistical crash course into the United States election process and the fall out of voter tampering at the highest levels. The intrigue is heart pounding as Duncan is targeted by an unknown source that is determined to shut down anyone connected with Matthew and Duncan’s original investigation. A cross country journey finds our hero struggling to survive as each step closer to the truth brings Duncan closer to his own demise. With FBI Agent Imogen Trager working alongside, our couple will be caught in political war of conspiracy, not of their making, as they face down the people willing to kill for their own agenda and candidate.

James McCrone writes an amazing and timely thriller with a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure; a fast paced, intense story of political intrigue and mystery; a relevant look into the political process and the real potential for fraudulent elections. The premise is intellectually stimulating, engaging and realistic; the characters are colorful, inspiring and passionate. FAITHLESS ELECTOR is a fascinating and riveting look at the conceivability of the unimaginable.

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest post-White and Red

Sailing Too Close to the Wind
by James McCrone

A well-crafted political thriller should feel “real.” To do so, it has to flirt with real events. But sometimes I worry I’m sailing just a bit too close to the wind.

In search of verisimilitude, an author works to capture the mood of a given time, to color the scene with familiar, plausible events. I wrote the draft of Faithless Elector years ago, and it was finally published it March of 2016, long before either candidate was even the their party’s nominee. Frankly, as someone writing a thriller, I was less interested in what was really happening, than in working to capture the mood of the time, the sharp, singed odor of righteous, sanctimonious, incendiary anger; the mistrust and the erosion of constitutional order. That, itself, proved to be too close to the truth.

The book, of course, is not about this most recent presidential campaign, but about what could have happened. Indeed, it could all still happen: the weaknesses in the Electoral College system exploited by the Faithless Elector conspirators, sadly, are all too real. Worse, despite my best efforts to remain fictional, Faithless Elector presaged real-world Faithless Electors casting protest votes, as well as a campaign calling the very act of voting into question and using vote-rigging as a campaign tactic. There were even “manufactured” news stories. (How I wish I’d thought to call it “fake news!”)

In both books, the technical aspects of the conspiracy were the hardest for me to get right. In Faithless Elector I had to become something of an expert on Electors and the Electoral College. I had to ground myself in Constitutional law and statistical analysis models—not so I could bore you with it, gentle readers, but so I could portray those aspects accurately and maintain the pace of a page-turning thriller. Obviously, Faithless Elector doesn’t end in the same way as the true election. It was never meant as prophecy. Nevertheless, I wondered and worried about sailing my fictional course too close to the wind. I comforted myself, wrongly it turns out, that Dark Network would not be so potentially controversial or inadvertently relevant. How wrong I was!

As I worked to finish the draft with my editor back in April, the news was full of hacking, chicanery and fake news; and worse, the FBI itself had come under scrutiny, had itself become part of the story. Unfortunately (for me), to write Dark Network, I also had to become versed in the workings of the FBI, its hierarchy, its processes. I had to do research on how to track and hack cell phones, how to mask GPS signals. I had to figure out how much information was shared between clandestine organizations and the FBI, under what circumstances and by what mechanisms. At one point, I worried the FBI would come knocking, wondering what I was up to!

The epigram for Dark Network comes from Adam Smith, the 18th century Scottish philosopher: “Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience.”

Dark Network is about power. The umbral conspirators are bent on taking power for themselves at the expense of everything we hold dear. The chilling, dark recognition at the heart of the plot is that the conspirators would say they were seizing power in order to preserve everything we hold dear. They are doing the right thing, they would say. And people who are doing the right thing are rarely troubled by scruples or conscience. Why would they be?

The tension for the characters in the novel centers on how far they’re prepared to go in defense of their own principles before they’ve abandoned them all. Let’s hope there are fewer real-world analogues this time out. But, given how many things I’ve written have come to pass, when you read the third and final book in the series, Consent of the Governed (fall 2018), you’ll know why I dread the sharp knock at the door.

About The Author

Follow James: Website / Twitter /Facebook / Goodreads

James McCroneJames McCrone is the author of the Imogen Trager novels, Faithless Elector and Dark Network, suspense-thrillers about clandestine threats to the presidency. Coming next, Consent of the Governed!

James’s work both on an off the page deals with justice, politics and issues of personal and social responsibility. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington in Seattle. He is back in the US, in Philadelphia, after a year abroad in Oxford, UK.


James is graciously offering a signed, paper copy of FAITHLESS ELECTOR to ONE (1) lucky commenter, and a signed paper copy of DARK NETWORK to ONE (1) other lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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Concierge (Black Raven #3) by Stella Barcelona-Review, Interview & Giveaway

Concierge (Black Raven #3) by Stella Barcelona-Review, Interview & Giveaway

Concierge Banner

Black Raven #3
by Stella Barcelona
Release Date: September 27, 2017
Genre: adult ,contemporary, suspense

Concierge / / B&N /

About the book:

The Concierge delivers anything…for a price.
A provider in the underworld of human trafficking, the Concierge fills deviant orders of an exclusive clientele with inventory collected from people who live on the streets. As client requests are delivered, a personal obsession with New Orleans artist Andi Hutchenson festers…until the predator’s quest is possession..

Andi Hutchenson lives in a world of fear-fueled shadows. Two and a half years ago, Andi was kidnapped, tortured, and left for dead. Since then, crippling fear has ruled her life. Round the clock security enables her to leave her French Quarter home to paint the world around her, but Andi’s past is about to collide with her lonely present.

Gabe Hernandez believes his client is safe…but she isn’t. Protecting Andi is a given, but Black Raven Agent Gabe Hernandez is captivated by her and wants to entice her back to the land of the living. Yet with each tug on the lifeline he offers, Gabe is pulled deeper into Andi’s world, where the dividing line between imagined horrors and real-life demons is whisper thin.



Concierge begins with Andi Hutchenson believing that she’s seen a young woman kidnapped in broad daylight in the French Quarter, not far from her home. The Black Raven agents assigned to her detail saw nothing. Which causes Andi more stress because she doesn’t know if the agents are lacking or if she’s having hallucinations. Due to the fact that Andi is best friends with one of Black Raven’s founding partners, who still feels somewhat responsible for what happened to Andi, she is a high priority client. When she fires yet another agent, they send in Gabe Hernandez.

Agent Hernandez is known for his quick wit and his charm, but even more for his almost empathic abilities. Once he makes the scene, it doesn’t take too long for him to ascertain that there is more to Andi than meets the eye. She has basically shut herself off from society, the same society that she once enjoyed, almost to the extreme. But what makes her stand out for Gabe, other than being a beyond gifted artist, is the way she sees herself….broken. That is NOT what he sees. He sees a beautiful, determined woman who is doing her best to navigate through what’s happened to her and try and make herself whole again. He makes it his mission to get her see to herself the way he does: unstoppable.

Andi tries to resist Gabe’s charm. She’s never even known another agent’s name. He invades her space, almost daring her to fire him, which she wants to do, but for some reason can’t. She eventually starts to feel something she hasn’t felt for two and a half years….safe. Just as Gabe starts to convince her that he’s the real deal, and so is she, evil rears its ugly head and upsets the calm they’ve been striving for. As Gabe and almost the entire Black Raven team race against the clock to save Andi, all he can do is pray that she’s still alive.

Wow……….just wow.

Concierge is an intense story from beginning to end. Your heart breaks for Andi and what she’s endured. It will also beat with pride as she is determined to make it out the other side of what happened to her. Yes, there are times that she doesn’t think she’ll be able to do it. Yes, there are times that she second guesses all aspects of her life that led up to her being kidnapped and tortured. Gabe is just what she needed. Of course, he’s charming and all of that, but it’s his empathic side that allows him to see Andi in a way that she doesn’t even see herself. All she has to do is believe in herself and in his steadfast support. Easier said than done when you’ve been through what she’s been through.

I have to say that there are a couple of parts of this book that are very dark. One particular scene in the beginning almost had me putting the book down, but I will say that I’m glad I didn’t. The Concierge (character) is a twisted, perverse being and Barcelona held nothing back in her portrayal of that character. Thankfully, there are only a few scenes where we are subjected to the Concierge’s whims. With all of that said, this book is by far my favorite in the series, and that’s saying a lot. Intense really isn’t a good enough word to describe it, but that’s what I’m going with. There is also not a problem reading this as a standalone. If you’re a fan of fast paced thrillers with phenomenal leads, sizzling romance and awesome secondary characters, you will never go wrong with one of Barcelona’s stories. I cannot wait for the next installment. Well done, Stella Barcelona! Very, very well done!!! (p.s. Stella Barcelona, please tell me Ragno’s story is coming soon!!!!)

Reading Order and Previous Reviews

Copy supplied for review

Reviewed by Vickie M.


TRC: Hi Stella and welcome back to The Reading Café.

stella barcelonaStella: Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s great to be here.

TRC: Congratulations on the release of CONCIERGE, the third book in your BLACK RAVEN series.

Stella: Thank you!

TRC: We would like to start with some background information for anyone who doesn’t know Stella Barcelona. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

Follow Stella: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook

Stella: I write romantic thrillers. When I’m not writing, I’m a lawyer. I work for a court in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve lived in and around New Orleans my entire life. During one very special time in my past, I lived in an apartment in the heart of the French Quarter, in Jackson Square. I’m also a dog lover, and I have two adorable papillons, who appear occasionally on my website and my Facebook page.

TRC: What has been happening in your life since last we spoke?

Stella: I’ve been busy writing! As you know, Deceived was published in 2014. Since then, I released Shadows and Jigsaw, and most recently I released Concierge.

I’ve also revamped my website, I write blogs from time to time, some book related, some not. I’ve included book club discussion questions on my website for each of my novels; the discussion questions give insight regarding themes that intrigued me as I wrote each novel. I also have an “Ask Stella” blog, where people ask questions that I answer on my site. I love to hear from readers, so please visit my website and say hello!

ConciergeTRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of CONCIERGE and THE BLACK RAVEN series?

Stella: “Black Raven” is shorthand for a continuing character in my novels, the security agency Black Raven Private Security Contractors. Each story that I write in the Black Raven series involves a high-stakes job for one or more agents.

In Concierge, A Black Raven Novel, after spending time in far away places in Shadows and Jigsaw, the action returns to New Orleans, Louisiana. The story involves a private security detail provided by Black Raven for an artist, where the job quickly goes awry in unexpected ways.

Concierge is set in and around a neighborhood where I once lived—the French Quarter. In the story, I provide a local’s glimpse of the chaos that ensues in the days leading to Fat Tuesday. It’s a thriller, where the action takes place along Royal Street, Frenchmen Street, Esplanade Avenue, and beyond.

Twists and turns will take the reader along French Quarter streets, into a world where peril ensnares vulnerable people who make the streets their home. In particular, a young musician who goes by the name “Pic” plays an important role in Concierge. Pic, a runaway who lives on the streets, was inspired by people I encountered while living in the Pontalba Apartments, in Jackson Square.

TRC: What kind of research/plotting do you do, and how long do you spend researching /plotting before beginning a book?

Stella: Although I spend significant pre-writing time conceptualizing each story, the time that I spend researching and plotting varies with each book.

In the pre-writing time, I usually develop the parameters of the Black Raven job that will drive the story. From there, I research thematic elements. My research results tend to drive some of the plot points. I add character development into the mix, and then I research the setting.

I develop points for chapters and scenes and lay everything out on a plot board, following, somewhat loosely, the method of plotting by color I learned from fellow author, and friend, Cherry Adair. I tend to rearrange everything for a while and obsess even more about various plot points and characterization. When I’m really, really tired of plotting, I start writing.

TRC: How do you select the names for your characters?

Stella: Names are difficult! I’m somewhat random with name selection in the beginning, then have to change the names midway through the story. For example, when writing Jigsaw I realized I had several characters with names that started with an “M.” It was confusing, so I had to come up with new names. It wasn’t fun, because I had been working on the story for months. It was hard to think of the characters with their new names.

TRC: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

Stella: If anything, it made me more determined to be a productive author. My goal was never to simply write one book and then stop. My goal has always been to be a storyteller. Since stories always play in my mind, I have more than one story to tell. Finding readers for Deceived, my first novel, and each subsequent novel, has made the entire process a worthwhile, rewarding endeavor.

TRC: What was your hardest scene –ever-to write?

Stella: There are a few that come to mind, BUT, the hardest, by far, was one particular bridge scene in Jigsaw. I’m trying not to give too much away- but the scene takes place in Paris, on the Pont Neuf. The hero, Zeus Hernandez, has to think and act fast to stop an explosion. The scene is short, but it took me forever to write. To this day, I can’t explain why it was so difficult for me.

TRC: There is a fine line between romance, erotic, and erotica in many of today’s popular contemporary fiction. Many authors are re-issuing their previously erotic story lines with ‘cleaner’ versions without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. What do you believe has precipitated this move or change in direction?

Stella: Though my novels have a sensual element, I don’t consider myself an erotica author. I can’t really speculate on the reasons why erotica authors may be re-issuing their books with ‘cleaner’ versions. It sounds interesting, though, and it makes me wonder whether the reverse would work as well. Should authors of non-erotic fiction re-issue their books with more erotic scenes set within?

TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?

Stella: I believe covers are extremely important, but truly, I think the quality of the story told within is even more important than the cover. Nevertheless, because of the importance of having covers that capture the imagination of readers, I tend to be extremely selective regarding cover elements. Recently, I wrote a blog about the cover of Concierge on my website. The blog, entitled “Musings…On the Cover of Concierge,” gives a bit of insight as to the depth of my obsession with covers.

TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?

Stella: Yes! I love to listen to music as I write. The louder it is, the better! It’s difficult to explain why music facilitates my writing, but I think the beat translates to story pacing. Fast paced songs remind me to incorporate action, while slower, more emotional songs remind me to reveal what my characters are feeling.

TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about authors?

Stella: One misconception is that authors always feel inspired to write. In reality, at least for me, getting from the beginning to the end of a reader-worthy story is hard work that requires extreme diligence and self-discipline.

Also, I’m not sure the creative process will ever become easy, even though writing is something I love to do. I equate the difficulty that comes with producing a novel with the sort of difficulty I experienced in my third and final year of law school. The classes in that third year weren’t magically easier just because I had been through two years of law school. To perform in that third year at the level I hoped to achieve, I still had to work hard. The same goes with writing.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Stella: I’m writing my next Black Raven novel, entitled “Insertion.” It’s set in Alaska … and … Stay tuned! It will be released in 2018.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Stella: Yes – I love to hear from readers, so please reach out and say hi, either on Facebook or through my website.

TRC: Thank you Stella for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on your new release.

Stella: You’re welcome, and thank you!


Stella is graciously offering a $25 Amazon gift card + a hand-blown glass fleur de lis paperweight + an autographed copy of Concierge. to ONE (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe

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8. Giveaway open to USA only

9.. Giveaway runs from October 13-18, 2017


Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Jenn McKinlay – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Jenn McKinlay – Review, Guest Post & Giveaway


Barking Up the Wrong Tree Banner


Barking Up the Wrong TreeAmazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / Book Depository


Carly DeCusati returned home to Bluff Point, Maine, with her tail between her legs. But she’s determined to get her life back on track—and that means finding new homes for the elderly golden retriever and overly talkative parrot she inherited before her old life fell apart.

Enter physical therapist and hot one-night stand James Sinclair. James doesn’t care that Carly doesn’t do relationships. He is determined to win her heart, promising to help her with the pets if she’ll just give him the time of day.

Carly agrees to date the irresistible James, and, for the first time in years, she’s dreaming of a happily ever after. But James has secrets, and if he can’t open up to Carly, their future could go to the dogs…




Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Jenn McKinlay is the 2nd book in her Bluff Point Romance series.  Barking up the Wrong Tree continues the trend of a sweet cute romance that McKinlay gave us in the first book.   This series not only has cute animals, but a fantastic group of friends.    Carly Decusati, our heroine, has returned home to Bluff Point, Maine, with the help of her friends, to stay temporarily, until she finds a new job.  Carly, much to her displeasure was left to care for a senior dog (Saul) and a parrot (Ike), who loves to curse.  Carly does not do relationships, whether its men or animals. But sometimes things don’t go as planned.

James Sinclair has recently moved to Bluff Point, and when he sees the gorgeous and outgoing Carly, he is determined to get to know her better.  They end up having a one night stand, which James wants more of, but Carly is afraid to become attached…”no relationships”     I actually loved the hot hot James, who was a lot of fun.  He will do everything to win Carly over, even if he has to play just being a friend.  Early on, I kind of was annoyed by Carly, with her stubborn insistence to find homes for the pets and ignore her  growing feelings for James.

Other then Carly’s stubbornness, this was such fun enjoyable book.  James was fantastic in the many ways he would entice Carly, and by the half way point, she was succumbing to her feelings.  When James’s family comes out for a birthday party for his Dad, Carly is forced to help plan the party, which brings her into James life and great family. That was a lot of fun, especially when Carly knows she is falling in love with James.  They both had bad experiences with love that defined the story, and together they will both face their nemesis to get past those issues. 

It was great to see Mac & Gavin again, as well as Carly’s other girlfriends & the guys.  The camaraderie between them all was terrific.  As for the animals, they played a major part of this story.  Saul, the senior dog was quiet, but loving, which slowly wore Carly down.  James’s dog was very sweet, especially with him being handicapped and Ike was a riot throughout.  LOL

What follows is a sweet romance that was slow build, for Carly only, as James knew what he wanted; the two dogs and parrot added a nice element to the story, with much humor;  and a fabulous group of friends that were so much fun.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree was such an enjoyable read, fun, with likeable characters and very well written by Jenn McKinlay.  If you enjoy pure simple small town romances, fantastic secondary characters, humorous and fun camaraderie and two adorable dogs, and a rascal parrot, then should be reading this series. 

Reviewed by Barb

Copy provided by Publisher


Guest post-White and Red

Hello, Reading Café, thanks so much for inviting me to visit. Barking Up the Wrong Tree, the second in my romantic comedy series, is out this week so it’s a very exciting time for me!

People frequently ask me what the inspiration for this series was. Quite simply, I am an animal lover – big time. If I am being completely honest, I love most animals more than I love most people. At a party, I am the one in the backyard, throwing the tennis ball for the host’s golden retriever or I’m the person who doesn’t move from her seat because the host’s cat has decided my lap is the place to be, and I can’t dislodge the cat, now can I?

In my own life, I live in a house overrun by pets. Currently, we have two dogs, two cats, and a fish who won’t die. No, I’m serious. Our neighbor gave us to him ten years ago to fish sit while he painted his living room. Kevin (named after the neighbor) is still here, while the neighbor has moved, left the state actually.

When I came up with the Bluff Point series, it was definitely with the intention to indulge in my love of animals, and so far I have had the best time. A puppy is the catalyst for romance in the first book ABOUT A DOG, and a geriatric golden retriever, Saul, a foul-mouthed parrot, Ike, and a disabled basset hound, Hot Wheels, are the champions of BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE. In January, EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY, will feature an orange tabby, Chaos, and his bosom buddy a brown standard poodle named Rufus.

In BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE, our heroine inherits her pets and being averse to commitments of all kinds, this is anything but good news for her as you can read in this excerpt.


     “Let’s just get on with it, dude,” Carly Decusati said.

     She figured Bartholomew Schuster would consider “dude” even more appalling than “Barry”. She was right. Instead of correcting her, however, he simply sighed as if he were being forced to do community service helping the rude and sarcastic.

     He opened his briefcase and pulled out a stack of papers. “It’s fairly straightforward. You sign these documents and the items Mrs. Genaro has bequeathed you become yours.”

     Carly looked at Barry. His face was a mask of benevolent innocence. That’s why she hated lawyers. You could never tell when they were hiding something.

     “She wasn’t rich was she?” she asked. “You’re not holding out on me, are you, Barry?”

     “Uh, no,” he said. “Her assets were minimal.”

     Carly glanced back at her friend Jillian Braedon. “See? Told you so.”

     She signed the papers and then handed Barry his pen.

     “So hit me, what’d she give me?”

     “One moment,” he said. He walked over to the door and stuck his head out into the hallway. “In here, please.”

     Jillian and Carly exchanged an intrigued glance.

     “Maybe it’s a piano,” Carly said. “I’ve always wanted a piano.”

     “What if it’s a leg lamp?”

     “From Fragile, Italy?” Carly asked. Then she started laughing. “Yeah, that’d be my luck.”

     Two burly moving men, wearing brown coveralls, came into the apartment. One was carrying a large glass bowl filled with water and a very round goldfish, aptly named Goldie by Mrs. Genaro. The other one was carrying a large rectangular case with a fierce looking lizard, Spike, Mrs. G’s pet reptile in it. Carly felt herself start to sweat. What exactly had she signed?

     The men set the pets down on the table and left the apartment. They didn’t shut the door, leaving Carly to believe there was more.

     “Oh, no,” Carly said. She looked at Barry as the panic began to fill her insides like water on the rise. “She didn’t.”

     “She did.” Barry looked smug.

     “What?” Jillian asked. “What’s going on?”

     Just then the men returned. One had a pretty golden retriever on a leash, the other carried a large rectangular object, draped with a cloth. The dog, Mrs. Genaro’s companion Saul, tipped his head to the side as if considering Carly. She ignored him, hoping with all of her might that there was a huge misunderstanding happening here.

      The man set the big object down in the middle of the room and stepped back. Carly grabbed a side of the sheet draped over it and gave it a good yank. Sure enough, there he was in all of his green feathered glory Mrs. G’s beloved parrot.

     “Hello, Ike,” Carly said. “Long time no see.”

     “Oh, for fork’s sake,” Ike squawked, except he didn’t say fork.

And this is why I love having animals in the books, you just never know what they’ll do next! Carly plans to unload these inherited pets at her first opportunity but then she meets hot physical therapist James Sinclair, who happens to live in a lighthouse, and all of her carefully laid plans fly the coop so to speak. If you’re looking for some hilarity and hijinks, and a story that will hit you in all the feels, I definitely recommend a visit to Bluff Point.

Happy Reading!



Jenn McKinlay’s publisher, Berkley is offering a paper copy of BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE to ONE (1) commenter at The Reading Cafe.

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