Monday, September 30, 2019

Monday Book Review: DIvining Elise, by Jodie Kessler

Divining Elise, A Granite Lake Romance, by Jody Kessler
Book Four (out of Six) in the Granite Lake Romance series
Published June 2018

About the Book:

Elise Martinez wished her date with destiny didn’t include being run off the road by the most caring, handsome, and intelligent man she’d ever met.

Moving to Granite Lake to manage a bookstore and coffee shop meant Elise could finally leave her haunted past behind, but being a psychic mom to a deaf child has its benefits and downfalls—and her guarded heart isn’t ready for a new romance.

Rob Everett never imagined giving up corporate law to open a brewery with his brothers in Granite Lake would begin with a car accident and the arrival of a surprise baby.

As if being a single dad and starting a new business weren’t challenging enough, Rob can’t get the beautiful, mysterious, and feisty bookstore manager out of his mind.

For Elise and Rob, falling in love is a complicated, sexy, and emotional enterprise.

Mix in a baby, a haunted brewery, craft beer, and a dangerous ex-husband into this recipe of love and their future isn’t as easily divined as the fates would have foretold.

**A steamy, stand-alone novel with a happily ever after.

**Contains mature language and romantic scenes.
My Take:

Like the other books in this series, the fourth book in Jody Kessler's Granite Lake romance series, Divining Elise, gives us a second chance romance between two jaded individuals. Ms. Kessler's lyrical writing style lends itself to interior monologues plagued with second thoughts and self doubt, as her two main characters weave an intricate dance around each other, their shared past, and the sizzling chemistry they both try so hard to deny. Unlike the other stories in this series, the author weaves in touches of the paranormal style she also excels at in her other works.

Elise Martinez has psychic premonitions and dreams, and - as it turns out - can see the ghosts haunting her new neighbors' building. She and her hearing-impaired son have just moved to the small mountain town of Granite Lake, California for new opportunities - Elise for a chance at a new job opening a bookstore with her best friend, and a new school and new doctor for Colton.

Rob Everett is the oldest of three brothers, and gives up a lucrative law career to go into business with his siblings, buying and renovating an old brewery in Granite Lake. Before he has a chance to begin his new life, his old life throws him a curve ball in the form of a baby daughter. His ex-girlfriend died giving birth to a child she never told him about, but listed him as the father on the birth certificate. The hospital sends him home with a daughter who doesn't come with an instruction manual, throwing a wrench into his carefully laid plans.

Although Elise has dreamed of Rob several times, she tries to keep her distance, not trusting that her attraction to her hot neighbor will turn out any better than her relationship with Colton's father - a man who ended up abusing her and landed himself in jail. Elise is done with men - but Rob is not the kind of guy to give up. And when they do finally get together, the scenes are sizzling.

Lots of plot twists keep the story moving along in rollercoaster fashion - between Colton's medical problems, Elise's shady ex-boyfriend, the mystery of the ghost and a decades old murder, and Rob's legal battles to keep the baby he wasn't sure he wanted but now can't let go of.... stir in a heavy dose of crackling chemistry any time Elise and Rob are in the same room and you get a book where the pages almost turn themselves. This is a great addition to the series and adds another layer of depth to the town of Granite Lake.

The books in this series are all stand-alone romances and can be read in any order, but the stories share common characters who add depth and breadth to the narratives, making the small town come to life. I love the way Jody Kessler writes with such passion and insight, making her characters real and believable with quirks and foibles but also with passion and dreams. This is not a fast read, but one to be read slowly and savored, as she packs meaning and feeling into each paragraph.

Five solid stars for this enjoyable story. Grab a copy on AMAZON

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Monday Book Review: Beard With Me, by Penny Reid

Beard With Me, Book 6 of the Winston Brothers series
by Penny Reid
Published September 2019

About the Book:

Beard With Me’ is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.

No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.

Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.

No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances—because nothing is beyond his control—is Billy’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.

Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.


You know when you finish a book and IMMEDIATELY want to start the whole thing over? Not because you think you missed something or read too fast, but because of the way it made you feel things and want things to be different, even though you know they'll be the same the next time you read it - and you also know it can't happen any different way, and it breaks your heart but you still want to go back to page one and live it all over again?


Penny Reid is a master at tugging your heart strings. She fills her books with both laughter and emotions so strong you feel them for days afterward. I love her Knitting in the City series, about 6 strong women friends in Chicago finding love, and have recommended it to anyone who will listen to me. But I think I may love this series more. It's more subtle in how it sneaks up on you and invades your thoughts, making you care, making you think, and making me crazy that this book ends the way it did!

This book is completely set in high school, but it is in no way a Young Adult book. 

I know the author says this is an origin story, and * technically * you could probably read it without reading any of the other stories.... but as a devoted reader of this series, I firmly believe you should read them in numbered order - and that this book will seem overly bleak without a solid base of who those Winston boys are. In the same way that book one of the series starts 4 months after their mother, Bethany Winston, succumbs to cancer and you don't get to truly meet her until Beauty and the Mustache, which is book 0.5 in the series, but didn't come out first... and Ashley is a crossover character to the Knitting in the City series, so it's better if you've read those books too.... but as the author says, each book is technically a standalone. She gives you all the information you need from each characters perspective (all books are told in first person, alternating POVs between the two leads) so that you can start anywhere. Start anywhere.

I digress. If you've read the series, GET THIS BOOK NOW.
If you haven't read the series, WHY NOT?

Beard With Me is available on AMAZON ~ as is the REST OF THE SERIES


I'm not sure I can leave a typical review since I want all of you reading this to go buy book one and live through the series like I did.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Writing Wednesday: New Release from CLAIRE MARTI !

One of my favorite authors has a new release out TODAY and I'm excited to tell the world all about it! (Or, at least tell all of you who're reading my blog today!) Claire Marti is a talented author whom I met when we both wrote for The Wild Rose Press. She starts a new writing adventure today with a new series and I'm really excited for her!


Claire writes contemporary romance set in her home state of California, but without your typical Hollywood or Wine Country settings. Her first series was set in Laguna Beach, and gave us three stories of second chance romances that were both heart warming and sizzling hot at the same time. This new series is set in Southern California on a horse-breeding ranch that's just five miles from the Pacific Ocean but worlds away.

Claire will tell you she started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, she was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.

When Claire's not writing, she's teaching yoga. You can find her teaching at studios in sunny San Diego or enjoy fifty online classes on the international website A breast cancer survivor, Claire is a sought-after speaker on the power of yoga and meditation. She's been published in numerous magazines with articles on wellness and is the author of a memoir, Come Ride with Me Along the Big C, on her experience beating breast cancer.

Claire is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and the San Diego Romance Writers.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this new story, the first book in her Pacific Vista Ranch series and it was a perfect beach read! (See my review HERE) Here's the blurb for the story:

A smoking hot stuntman. A fiery horse breeder. And a 220-acre ranch too small for both of them.

She’s avoided Hollywood for years…

When an arrogant Hollywood stuntman struts into Samantha McNeill’s breeding barn, sparks fly. She doesn’t care how mouthwateringly gorgeous he is, not when he assumes Pacific Vista Ranch’s resident horse breeding manager must be a man. Not to mention his job threatens to pull her family back into the paparazzi filled world they escaped from over a decade ago.

Now it’s at her door––wearing faded jeans and a wicked grin.

Holt Ericsson can tell the beautiful redhead hates him on sight and the feeling is becoming mutual. But he will call in a favor and convince Sam’s legendary director father that Pacific Vista Ranch is the only suitable place left in California to film an epic Western. Holt’s invested all his savings in the movie and his entire career is riding on it. No way will he allow one irritating, sexy woman to stand in his way.

Sam intends to fight him at every turn…if only her heart didn’t race when they’re together. Holt does his best to steer clear of her…except all he wants to do is hold her close. The sizzling attraction between them is either going to burn up the sheets or burn down the ranch…


Swallowing a flutter of nerves in her throat, she rapped on the door. She was simply going for business. Ranch business. Bringing him dinner was simply being polite, like her father had raised her to be. So why was her heart hammering against her ribcage?

“It’s unlocked.” A muffled voice called. So much for manners. Holt apparently didn’t seem to bother with them.

She hesitated a moment. She smoothed back an errant strand into the ballet bun she hadn’t bothered to unravel. Although she’d changed out of her dance gear into her favorite old pair of jeans and a super-soft t-shirt, she hadn’t been in the mood to mess with her hair. Briefly, she regretted not being more like her twin sister, talented with makeup and hair. But, nope, Dylan had received the lion’s share of feminine genes.

Whatever. She opened the door, and then froze. He was rubbing his hair dry with a white towel slung over one shoulder. The pristine white material emphasized his bronzed skin. Tiny beads of moisture clung to chiseled pecs and the light sprinkling of golden hair on his chest was the only thing preventing him from looking like a marble statue. Barely. Shredded eight-pack abs and sharp V-cuts of muscle converged at the waistband of a pair of jeans as faded as her own. Her mouth suddenly parched, she swallowed. Hard.

“Sorry, I got stuck on the phone.” He grinned and tossed the towel onto a nearby chair. 

She jerked her gaze up to his face, which had to be safer, right? Her pulse thrummed in her temple and heat descended to her belly. Damn. His face was definitely not safer than his gorgeous body.

“How’d you get that scar?” She blurted out the words, desperate to distract herself from his pure physical presence. He really needed to put on a shirt. Pronto.

“Scar? Which one?” He laughed, seemingly oblivious to her reaction, thank goodness.

“Forehead. The one across your forehead.” A flaw. Weren’t scars flaws? Why did it make him look just a little dangerous? And it did save him from utter perfection. Didn’t it?


Find Claire at the following spots online: