It has been a hot minute since I’ve gotten a review in (and there are some VERY good reasons for that which I’ll hopefully be able to share with you soon), but I’m super excited to be able to share not only a book review with you all, but a special giveaway as well.
Before we dive in, I do want to throw up a small disclaimer. At the very onset of Embracing Today we are faced with domestic violence and a graphic depiction of a fire, death, and trauma. Please be aware of the contents if you have any sensitivities or triggers to any or all of these subjects.
Embracing Today is book three in the Trading Yesterdays series, however for me it was book one because I hadn’t had the privilege of reading this amazing series prior to Embracing Today. Despite that, I didn’t feel cheated or like I was missing any pieces. It functioned beautifully as a standalone, although I’ll admit I have every and all intentions of backtracking to read the earlier books in the series.
This story gripped me from the very first paragraph and did not let go. I was incredibly impressed with the rich description the author used in the opening scene to pull me right in. Although the opening was violent and graphic it was so well written I couldn’t help but enjoy the ride, even if it started as a bumpy one.
Marin has been through one tragedy and heartbreak after another which has ended in her building up walls the size of the Empire State Building around her heart to shield herself from any more pain. However, our girl has not counted on Ben walking into her burning business and life to chip away at every barricade she throws up.
We stan a gentle hero, amirite?
Ben is a classic and swoon worthy book boyfriend. He is patient and understanding as Marin struggles to rebuild her life and heal mentally and emotionally. He steps in to stop her from landing herself in bad situations that could end badly. And, most of all, he cherishes every step he takes with her on the journey to peace and happiness.
While Embracing Today begins with an immense amount of pain and turmoil, the ending gives the happy sigh you are looking for when you crack open a romance. And it has my favorite thing in the world, a sassy and sweet puppy as a sidekick. You’ll love Embracing Today and should grab your own copy.
A special thanks to HEA PR and Kahlen Aymes for also offering a special giveaway in conjunction with this release. Check it out here: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/eddd61b8109/
Where to find Embracing Today:
Happy hump day! And also, HAPPY FRICKIN’ SPRING! I have been WAITING for this day to come and break the cold snap that February brought. Now that I’ve got a forecast with numbers in the seventies in it, I am taking my reading outside to soak up the sun I’ve so desperately missed. And the added hours of daylight.
What in the bloody blue blazes does any of that have to do with today’s book review? Well, listen, Ms. Joya is a Los Angeles resident who brings so much LA flavor and flare to her books that getting the opportunity to finally ready all the delicious words in the bright sunshine adds to my readerly joy.
I am an unabashed romance lover in basically every format, however I’ve had a lot of misses in the paranormal realm, but Ms. Joya is an author I count on to give the deep, meaningful romance, panty melting sexy scenes, and heart stopping suspense with an absolutely stellar thread of magic. With every story I am equal parts impressed and jealous at the seamless way Ms. Joya weaves in paranormal elements into a realistic love story.
As any one who had followed my reviews for a long time knows, I adore broken characters, especially broken boys. That is a facet of story building that Ms. Joya excels at and I always make sure I have lots of warm blankets and fresh brownies to cuddle her characters closely.
In this story ups the broken by giving us Ruby. Okay, so listen. Being a single mother and a paramedic makes me immediately want to give her a big hug, but then we add in a backstory that legitimately ripped my heart out and… yeah, I was baking Ruby a fresh batch of brownies.
And then… we have Diego. Now, straight from the cover I was 100% #TeamDiego. That man is basically the definition of my type. Okay, maybe not so much the questionable ethics involved in his treasure hunter lifestyle/career, but the whole tall, dark, and mysteriously charming bit? Sign this girl up.
One of my favorite parts of Diego, however, was unrelated to his looks or facial hair (which is shocking because this girl loves her a well groomed beard), but his absolute devotion to Ruby, his deep desire to have a second chance with the girl he still loves (and oh my GOSH am I a sucker for that second chance romance story!), and his willingness to lay his life on the line for Ruby or her precious little girl Rose. And Oh. Emm. Gee. Rose is one of the most brilliantly written children I have read in romance in a long time. She has a fabulously engaging personality and sucks you right in.
However, none of these are my favorite character in Heart & Seek. That spot is reserved for Fen and if you read this story and do not love the precious little floofy fluff that is Fen, we will need to have a strongly worded conversation.
As with every Luna Joya story, there are scorching hot sex scenes and grippingly suspenseful moments that will, both, have you clinging to the edge of your seat… uncomfortably.
Even if you’re not typically a paranormal romance lover, I’d strongly recommend discovering Ms. Joya’s The Legacy series. Every book is fabulous in its own right, but you need to read in order to fully immerse yourself in the depth of planning Ms. Joya has put into mapping out this thrilling and enticing series.
Where to find Heart & Seek
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
No, I do not have an Irish book to review for you all, however this is SUCH a highly anticipated release for me personally that I am feeling like I struck the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
As both a reader and a writer I love (as in love with a capital L.O.V.E.) second chance romances. There is something about seeing people who think they’ve screwed up their love lives so badly they can’t come back from it to win back their true loves. BUT THEN…
And that is the moment I live for.
Renovation of Love ticks not only this box, but about a dozen others in my looooooove it line. Not only does it offer the best kind of second chance romance (hello rekindled high school love), but it also involves a home renovation and when your primary form of TV is HGTV, like me, that is a massive bonus.
Cynthia is a pretty stoic, strong woman who has been through a lot, some of which are secrets she holds extra close. One of the biggest struggles in her life has been her parents’ tumultuous relationship. Something she attributes to the fact that they had a “shotgun wedding” thanks to Cynthia’s preacher grandfather once he learned that little Cynthia was on the way. A childhood of selfishness and drama from both parents left Cyn with one steadfast resolution: to never repeat the mistakes they made
The one bright spot in her adolescence comes in the studly form of Marcel Lewis. In your mind you need to underline, bold, and caps studly. Even as a teenager this man was the epitome of Prince Charming and once he became an adult? Let’s just say that a stint in the military and a career in the construction industry means Marcel might be over 40, but he definitely is not fighting the dad bod. Despite being a dad twice over to two grown (well, technically one grown and one mostly grown) children.
One of my favorite parts of Renovation of Love actually wasn’t either Cynthia or Marcel, but the unique, and super refreshing, way that Ms. James portrayed Marcel and Porscha’s dissolved marriage. I really appreciated seeing a healthy separated couple. Neither Marcel nor Porscha hate each other, and not once through the book do they speak poorly of each other. This isn’t an evil ex type trope and I adored seeing the way they worked together to coparent their children, even though they were no longer little, and accepted one another as being a better friend than partner.
As with every Meka James story, she brings the sexy times in beautiful detail, however she tempers the hot heat with a sweetness of reunited lovers who are relearning each other.
I am also absolutely thrilled to share that Renovation of Love is only the first in the coming 3 book Love on Madison Island series centered on Cynthia and her two besties Regina and Irene. We get a great feel for Regina in Renovation of Love (and I am already salivating for her story there’s is a great little teaser for it at the end of RoL) because Cynthia lives with Regina while her aunt’s home is being renovated. Irene is a bit more ambiguous and lives largely in phone calls and old stories Cynthia and Regina share.
If you love second chance romances, strong female friendships, and steamy sexy times, grab your copy of Renovation of Love today.
Where to find Renovation of Love
It may be after Christmas, but just before the holiday I had one more book to review so I am going to share this a little late. I’ll be honest and admit that my tree is still up and there are still lights twinkling all over my house, so this fits right in.
Let me start off by saying something I didn’t realize at the onset of this story. A Sugar Plum Christmas is actually book EIGHT in the Christmas Mountain series. However, this is easily read as a standalone and is a lovely little dollop of holiday sweetness that you can chomp on long after your cookies are gone.
Basically A Sugar Plum Christmas is a Hallmark movie that stepped out of your TV and onto a page. The entire town embraces their name, Christmas Mountain, and all the businesses behave accordingly by giving all their businesses Christmas themed names. This… got a little corny after a while, but… so do Hallmark movies if we are being honest. And that is kind of the draw, right? Losing yourself in something wholly impossible and excessively cheesy, but sweet and romantic to make you forget the reality that is the news and current world events. It’s called escapism and you can’t help but appreciate a little cheese with your fantasy.
Although this is a clean and wholesome read you can easily see the chemistry between Lacey and Jacob when the big city foster child with some serious baggage meets the small town loving soul who doesn’t want to see the town he loves exploited for TV ratings. I honestly can’t blame Lacey. If I had a highly competitive producer position like her and I stumbled across an idyllic locale like Christmas Mountain as a possibility for a reality dating show, I would jump all over it too. But Jacob’s protectiveness and concerns that his beloved hometown will be victim to big city executives is valid and wholly endearing. Especially when he uses his de facto job as “tour guide” as a way to deter her from choosing Christmas Mountain for the show which leads to SEVERAL hysterical moments that made me literally LOL.
As much as this book met my personal requirements for the label “romcom,” there was that story long worry. Will they be more than just a fling when she lives a far different life than his? Who is going to compromise and can it really work?
Never fear, Ms. Hatler ties this story up with a beautiful, red glitter, bow that leaves you with that gloriously contented feeling that only comes from a decadent holiday meal or a fully satisfying HEA.
Where to find A Sugar Plum Christmas
For my review of Book One in this series: https://ameliafosterauthor.com/2020/10/21/a-girl-gone-crazy-by-becca-baldwin-book-review/
A Girl Gone Crazy was a funny, mostly lighthearted read and it was the fun entertainment I needed. I will admit I was caught off guard with A Girl’s Dream Come True. This is a much heavier, angstier read. Danger, threats, and secrets abound in this installment of the Girl Gone Crazy series.
Joel has recovered (well mostly) from his mugging and he and Haley move to Paris so that Joel can start work on his new cooking show. This is a fateful decision because things start happening to both Haley and Joel. Danger and tragedy seem to lurk around every corner and nearly every situation seems to point the proverbial finger at Joel’s ex Caroline… who still very clearly wants to be a part of Joel’s life.
In an effort to keep Haley safe, the woman who owns his heart and whose wellbeing he will always put above his own, Joel brainstorms an idea that will eliminate the threats following Haley… but what he thinks is a brilliant idea is one that is practically guaranteed to end their story without a “happily ever after.”
Warning: This story does end in a cliffhanger, but the third book in the series will be out in January and I have all the things crossed that we will finally see Joel and Haley get their full HEA rather than their previous HFN.