Monday, August 8, 2022

#BookReview - The Iron Warrior Returns (The Legendary Warriors, Book 1) by Michelle Willingham #HistoricalRomance @michellewilling

 


The Iron Warrior Returns
(The Legendary Warriors, Book 1)
By Michelle Willingham 


A fight to save his people
A kiss to save his heart…
To regain his stolen lands and save his people from suffering, Robert of Penrith has returned to marry his enemy’s daughter. To Robert’s surprise, his dearest friend, Morwenna, helps him win the heiress’s hand—despite the danger to them both. The fierce, beautiful miller’s daughter has stood by him throughout his exile. But a single kiss ignites a passion that threatens to upend all Robert’s plans…


The cover of this book had my heart pumping before I had even caught sight of the tagline. Once I had read the blurb, I knew I had to read this book. Michelle Willingham is a new author for me as I had never read any of her books before, and I only found out about this one because I saw it on another book blog. I was kind of expecting the trademark Mills and Boon layout - there would be romance, but with a massive hurdle to get over, before the characters could have their happy ending, and that is what I got with that book, but I also got a lot more. This is a story that is utterly compelling from beginning to end. I really could not read this book fast enough. There is action, danger, forbidden love and of course swoon-worthy moments.

 Morwenna was a character that I really enjoyed reading about. She is feisty, but also vulnerable. Whereas Robert is determined to reclaim his land, but he can't do that if he allows himself to fall in love with Morwenna. Oh Robert, you really are quite blind! I thought the romance was a slow simmering boil, but as soon as Robert realises his own heart then the attraction between the two cannot be denied. I thought the love scenes were beautifully depicted and the author has delivered a very believable romance.

I thought enjoyed every minute of this book. My only complaint is I wish it had been longer (I know Mills and Boon have a recipe that they follow to the letter) but I would have really liked to have spent more time with these characters. As this is book 1, I am hoping I can catch up with them in book 2. Fingers crossed! 

If you love historical romance then you have to buy this book. You can find it over on Amazon

Michelle Willingham

#1 Bestseller in Historical Romance, Regency Romance, and Scottish Historical Romance

Top 100 Kindle Bestseller List, U.S. and Germany

RWA RITA Finalist, 2010, for Best Historical Romance

National Reader's Choice Award Finalist, 2014 and 2017, for Best Historical Romance

Michelle Willingham has published nearly forty romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Currently, she lives in Virginia with her children and is working on more historical romance books in a variety of settings such as: Viking era Ireland, medieval Scotland, Victorian England, Regency England, and medieval Ireland. When she's not writing, Michelle enjoys baking cookies, playing the piano, and avoiding exercise at all costs. Visit her website at: michellewillingham.com


Thursday, August 4, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — On Bur Oak Ridge (Sheltering Trees: Book Three) by Jenny Knipfer #HistoricalRomance #BlogTour #excerpt @JennyKnipfer @maryanneyarde


You have to check out this excerpt from On Bur Oak Ridge (Sheltering Trees: Book Three) by Jenny Knipfer. Thank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this tour.



On Bur Oak Ridge
(Sheltering Trees: Book Three)
By Jenny Knipfer


"The plot has its twists and turns to keep readers intrigued…to the very end. A great comfort read that will soothe the spirit with renewed hope and faith." Readers’ Favorite five-star review 

A HISTORICAL NOVEL OF FINDING HEALING AND A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE

In the early 1900s, quiet and reserved Molly Lund finds refuge from her past at the Nelsons’ farm in Minnesota. In an attempt to turn a new page in her life, Molly works at making peace with her losses and coming to terms with the disfiguring burns on her face. 

Samuel Woodson, the Nelsons’ hired hand, carries his own cares. Split from his family and bearing a burden of misplaced guilt for an act that haunts him, Samuel–seeing past Molly’s scars–draws her out of her self-protective shell. 

Molly and Samuel form a friendship, but just as their hearts lead them deeper, an unexpected guest comes calling, demanding what’s his. 

Will Molly and Samuel find a way to be together or will they be separated, due to impediments beyond their control? Can they trust in God’s plan and travel a path that heals the hurts of the past?  

Readers of historical fiction, Christian historical fiction, and Christian historical ro-mance will delight in this beautifully wrought story of the healing power of love. 

"A heartwarming story of healing from external and internal scars. Through some of life’s harder lessons the characters learn to trust, forgive, and find second chances out of the ashes of pain and loss." 
Anne Perreault, author of eighteen inspirational novels, including the Yellowstone series



Samuel


I pause in my writing, sensing something or someone. I look up from my journal into the eyes of Mrs. Lund. My cheeks blush warm; she has caught me writing and thinking about her. I quickly slap my journal closed.


Her good eye focuses on me. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”


I swallow, trying to settle my nerves. “Didn’t expect anyone, that’s for sure.”


She looks over the scenery, a faint, rough edge to her tone. “A good day for a stroll.”


“Yes.” I look down and notice King, the Nelsons’ pet blonde Labrador, at her heels. King, congenial to most people, has taken a special liking to Mrs. Lund. I remember my manners. “Care to sit?” I ask, and I move over on the slatted bench to make room.


Her hand flutters to her neck, wrapped in a colorful, crocheted scarf.


“I...suppose,” she answers without much certainty behind her words.


She sits on the edge of the bench, leaving some space between our legs.


What do we talk about?


I regret asking her to sit. Presently, my mind doesn’t dwell on conversing but on writing, and I can’t very well talk with her about what I’ve written in my journal. Or can I?


She releases me of the initial duty. “Did you grow up on a farm?”


She gives me the briefest of looks and focuses back on the rolling hills to the north. King slumps at her feet, unperturbed by the interruption in their walk.


“Yes. A dairy.” How much should I tell her? “You?” I ask.


She keeps her gaze straight ahead, but I notice how she nervously picks at the hemline of her blue, wool blazer. “No. My pa was a lumberjack and my ma a washerwoman. I took after my ma.”

I sense there’s more to her upbringing.


“Oh? How so?” I ask, hoping to draw her out.


I desire to know more about this mysterious woman with a past as veiled as her face.


She sighs heavily. “I married a man like my father and got hired on at the hotel where my mother worked.”


“And...your husband did not move to Menomonie with you?” I inquire.


She intakes a sharp breath. Perhaps I shouldn’t have asked. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pry,” I reassure her.


“No. I am sure you are curious about my...situation.” She turns and slants a short-lived smile at me, looking almost mischievous. “I would be.” She pauses and appears to be thinking. “To tell you the truth, I’ve not seen my husband for over five years. I believe that he’s dead. Jacob left me after...” She doesn't continue but bows her head and clenches the fingers on her left hand into a fist. With her right she reaches for the scarred side of her face. “Well, after the accident.”


I nod, not knowing whether to keep asking questions or not. Maybe if I offer something more personal, she might be more comfortable sharing those sorts of details about her life with

me.


“I was...to take over the home farm after my father died. Even though in his will he left the place to Mother. Plans were that I would operate the farm. But, unexpectedly,” I tilt my head and navigate how to proceed, “my mother remarried, and the farm is now in her husband’s name.”


I don’t tell her that my mother’s husband is dead and that it’s my fault. That’s too heavy. Too much.


She turns a sympathetic eye my way. “I’m sorry to hear that. It must be very difficult.”


I nod and agree. “It was. Is.” I switch the heat off myself. “But what about you? Why did you move from northern Wisconsin to Menomonie? And how did you and Mabel meet?”


“Ah, well. That’s a long story.” She smiles, slow and sad. “But I don’t want to ruin this pleasant afternoon with my misfortunes.”


“Well, it should be ‘tit for tat.’ We can share the unpleasantness.”


On a whim I wink at her. She responds with a blooming blush on her smooth, ivory cheek.


“Let’s just say ill-fortune led me to Menomonie, and I met Mabel through her sister, Robin, whom I...gardened with. And Mabel has been asking me to come visit for quite some Time. I finally agreed.”


Her voice sounds scratchier, and she coughs.


I offer my canteen of water to her, unscrewing the cap. “Here, take a drink.”


She takes it, and our fingers brush; hers are icy cold. I’d like to wrap them in the shelter of mine, which, I’m sure, are many degrees warmer.


“Um, thank you,” Mrs. Lund says.


She tips the canteen back, drinks, wipes her mouth, smiles, and hands it back to me. I take it, affixing the cap.


I search her good eye for the truth. “Are you glad you’ve come?” She nods like a happy child. “Yes.”


“Me too,” I tell her, and we sit in silence for a few moments, watching a flock of blackbirds swoop and dive and land in the branches of a nearby oak.


Their cackle reaches an annoying decibel and severs the companionable link we share.


I stand, sling the canteen on my shoulder, tuck my journal in my large coat pocket, and offer my elbow to her. “Can I escort you back to the house, Mrs. Lund?”


A half-smile appears on her face. “I’d like that. Thank you. And you must call me Molly.”


Doesn't this book sound amazing?! You can grab your copy of this book on Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CA and Amazon AU And get this, it is free to read with #Kindleunlimited  So, what are you waiting for?!Go on, treat yourself!


Jenny Knipfer


Jenny lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ken, and their pet Yorkie, Ruby. She is also a mom and loves being a grandma. She enjoys many creative pursuits but finds writing the most fulfilling. 

Spending many years as a librarian in a local public library, Jenny recently switched to using her skills as a floral designer in a retail flower shop. She is now retired from work due to disability. Her education background stems from psychology, music, and cultural missions.

All of Jenny’s books have earned five-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, a book review and award contest company. She holds membership in the: Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, Wisconsin Writers Association, Christian Indie Publishing Association, and Independent Book Publishers Association.

Jenny’s favorite place to relax is by the western shore of Lake Superior, where her novel series, By The Light of the Moon, is set.

She deems a cup of tea and a good book an essential part of every day. When not writing, Jenny can be found reading, tending to her many houseplants, or piecing quilt blocks at her sewing machine.

Her new historical fiction, four-part series entitled, Sheltering Trees, is set in the area Jenny grew up in, where she currently lives, and places along Minnesota’s Northern Shore, where she loves to visit. She is currently writing a four-part novella series entitled: Botanical Seasons and a three-part fantasy series entitled: Retold Fairy Tales.
       
Keep current with Jenny by visiting her website at https://jennyknipfer.com. Ways to connect with Jenny via social media, newsletter, and various book sites can be found on her website. 





Monday, August 1, 2022

On Tour With Xpresso Book Tours — It Started with a Dance by Tinia Montford #Giveaway #Excerpt #Romance #XpressoBookTours

It Started with a Dance
By Tinia Montford
(Pacific Grove University, #2)
Publication date: July 28th 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

WILL THEY PULL OFF THE PERFECT PERFORMANCE?

It’s double time for Cami Clinton…

Dance is in Cami’s blood, but a bombshell diagnosis puts her on the sidelines. Now returning for her senior year of college, she’s determined to prove she is the dancer she once was. Each year, at the end of the semester, the campus hosts a dance festival. Cami knows this is her shot at redemption, but while at a party, things go horribly wrong and Cami suddenly has a new boyfriend: Marsh Lincoln.

Marsh Lincoln has two left feet…

He doesn’t dance. A nasty accident haunts Marsh and he’s just ready to graduate. Until he’s told he’s missing credits. The only class left to fill his missing credits? Ballroom dancing. To make matters worse, his girlfriend breaks-up with him in front of everyone at a party, leaving him with a new girlfriend he’s never met before…

It takes two to tango…

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy when you’ve just met. When the lines between what’s real and pretend blurs, they have to ask themselves: Can you catch feelings for something that’s all pretend?


EXCERPT

Girl, don’t do it; it’s not worth it. Don’t do it… Don’t do it, Cami. Last time was supposed to be it! Don’t…

Paper crinkled under Cami as she shifted on the exam table, facing the cabinet on the wall. It held a box of gloves, a thermometer, an otoscope, and the little disposable thingies that went with it. She exhaled shakily and squeezed her eyes shut. I swear I’m just thinking about stealing the doctor’s glove; I’m not gonna do it. Last time was it… They are good for cleaning. It would be awful if Devin had to bail me out of jail for stealing gloves in a doctor’s office. I’ll get expelled from school and be forced onto the mean streets of the Tenderloin. I’ll have to fight cats for chicken bones and steal cough syrup to stay high.

Cami’s karma was shot to hell based on her last six months of existence. She didn’t want the big man upstairs to send a bolt of lightning down to obliterate her.

She would be good…

Pushing herself up, she strained to hear any footsteps in the hall. The doctor wouldn’t notice a few missing gloves, would she?

Her phone dinged twice with a text message. It was her best friend, Deja. Saved by the bell.

Where are you?? I thought we were getting lunch? Winter and I are in the restaurant.

Cami slapped her forehead. How could she forget? It was their annual back-to-school tradition. Lunch in Japantown and mochi ice cream afterward. A staple in their friendship since freshmen year and even more important since last semester.

I had to meet with my adviser. Let’s meet for dinner?

Deja’s reply was instant.

Fine. Take a sneak pic of your adviser. Clark is foine.

Cami hung her head. Why did I lie? Deja and Winter, her best friends, knew about her hospital stint. They visited her every day until they had to go home for summer break, right before she finally received her diagnosis. Cami still couldn’t utter the words chronic disease…

She told herself she would confess to them, but when the moment came, she found herself saying viral infection instead. Each time after that, the lie flowed easier and it became harder and harder for her to backpedal. She told herself lying was for a good reason. Cami was tired of being the one people needed to look after. She was reinventing herself after this setback, presenting herself as independent and poised. Even if it was a fa├žade.

Anxiety churned in her stomach, and she hoped her doctor would come back with the results she wanted. A glance at her phone let her know the time.

12:04 PM.

How long had she been sitting here? Twenty or thirty minutes? It was the first day of the semester, and Cami wasn’t letting it slip through her fingers. It was late August and freezing in San Francisco because of the coastal fog and wind. She tugged at the pink chunky sweater she’d paired with a skirt and combat boots. She pulled her knotless braids over her shoulder, biting her lip with a glance at the door before she pushed herself off the exam table.

“I’m just gonna take one. I’ve been through a lot,” she muttered, justifying the petty theft.

Cami plucked a glove from the box and held her breath as if alarms would sound. Once the coast was clear, she took another. Then another. Her hands were full as someone knocked at the door. She squealed, dropping some contraband as she darted across the room and shoved the gloves into her book bag, and plopped her butt back on the exam table, winded from that simple yet covert act.

“Y-yes?”

She tried placing a neutral expression on her face, hoping it didn’t reveal how fast her heart was beating, or her fear that a minor sprint consumed most of her energy.

The door opened, and her doctor’s head appeared. “Camille?”

“Dr. Aguilar.”

The last time Cami was in a hospital, besides her own illness, she found out her father had died. Of course, she didn’t remember this. She had been a toddler; her mother and brother recounted the story solemnly to her years later. It was a good enough excuse to avoid hospitals ever since.

Dr. Aguilar almost changed her mind about hospitals. The older woman’s aura of calmness and matronly appearance never failed to put her at ease. Bracelets adorning both arms and rings on all fingers. Plump. Graying hair. She smiled and her eyes went to the blue glove lying on the floor.

“The gloves fell out of the box…” That was a lame excuse.


Doesn't this book sound amazing. You an find your copy at the following online bookstores:


Tinia Montf

Tinia (TUH-NIA) Montford is a Pisces who’s a sap for romance, especially when there’s (tons of) kissing. Loves eighties sitcoms and will consume anything with chocolate. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in English and Graphic Design.

She is a world traveler having climbed a volcano in Nicaragua, scaled Angkor Wat in the blistering sun, and roamed the Acropolis of Athens. Oh, she also dabbles in short stories occasionally.

If you can’t catch her writing, you can bet she’s overindulging on poke bowls, listening to the same four songs, or chilling with her adorbs doggie. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Fiction. 

Social Media Links:

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On Tour With Xpresso Book Tours — Awaken by Vanessa MacLellan #fantasy #XpressoBookToursr @McCVan

Awaken
By Vanessa MacLellan
Publication date: July 30th 2022
Genres: Adult, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Horror

Balin stands between two great Powers. One will shatter his mind; the other will destroy his soul. Only one of them can save his people.

Fort Resonbirg, a Norse stronghold in the New World, is besieged by the evil sorcerer Ursulard the Dreamspinner. Though their fields are scorched and homes destroyed, the residents and refugees do not worry, because Fort Resonbirg is Awakened with the power to provide, protect, and grow. But not all is as it seems when a wall of impenetrable mist surrounds the fort, and within the mist hunts the dragon, Nidhogg. Nidhogg hungers for more than flesh and bone. It instills nightmares on its prey, feeding on fear and pain, inevitably taking lives.

Balin Tremore, a commoner bound for the militia but hoping to stay by his noble love’s side, never expected to amount to grand things. When the great power of Cradleweaving is awakened within him, Balin unknowingly becomes the one person with the power to pierce the wall of mist and banish the deadly beast within before it destroys them all—if he can master the new power in time. But to master the power, he must sacrifice much. The question is, will it be his position, his Lady, or his very soul?

The Mist meets Nightmare on Elm Street in this classic tale of personal sacrifice.


EXCERPT

He rapped his knuckles against the wooden door, leaning against the frame to take the strain from his leg.

“Who is there?”

“It is I, Balin Tremore.” He glanced up and down the hallway. Vacant. “I request an audience.”

The door swung open. “Please enter with an open heart, Balin.” Elaine beamed at him, her joy evident in the musical laughter in her words.

Balin stepped inside, and Elaine slammed the door closed.

“Is Kirsten here?” he asked, scanning the suite for Elaine’s handmaiden.

Elaine shook her head. “She’s getting fabric.” With no warning, she threw her arms around Balin’s shoulders and hugged him close. “I’m so, so, so glad you are well,” she said, her words held stiffly, as if voicing a vow. “Don’t ever do that again. Don’t ever.” She squeezed him. His body took a moment to react, and then he melted into her hold.

He embraced her, brushing his cheek against her plum silk shirt, holding her close, praying to Baldr that she’d never be taken from his arms. He inhaled her lilac scent and closed his eyes.

She pulled back, and the intensity in her gaze captured his breath. They were of a same height, except for when she wore ball shoes and could stare down at him with haughty superiority. She’d tease him then, drape her arm over his shoulders when nobody was looking their way. He didn’t mind, he just enjoyed being close to her. Now, however, no tease twinkled in her stormy eyes. Only worry and determination resided there, and he hated to see all those emotions in turmoil over her sweet features.

“Balin, would you just give in? You don’t have to return to the field.”

Balin took in a breath and let his gaze slip from hers to stare at the side of her nose. “I can’t do that.”

“Yes. You can.” She pulled away sharply, turning her back on him as she charged into her sitting room, her strong trouser-clad legs cutting the distance to a few strides. She gleaned pieces of paper from her writing desk and tromped back towards him, shaking the papers in his face. “I’ve completed the requisition. All I need is the Hauld’s approval, and after you and William—” she waved her hands through the air in a grand gesture, the papers crackling under the abuse, “—there’s no way he wouldn’t agree to you being my steward.”

They’d had this argument before, and Balin found it harder and harder to refuse her.

But he wanted to be so much more to her than just her steward.

“I don’t even need your approval, you know.” Her eyes narrowed, and her mouth turned into a frown.

He dropped his shoulders back, attention wandering over the copper molding encircling her ceiling. “You wouldn’t do that.”

“Don’t you tempt me, Balin Tremore. If it means keeping you out of the war, I will do what I have to do.”

The command in her voice drew his attention back to her face. He scooped up her hands, papers and all, and pressed his forehead to hers. They stood that way for a moment, Elaine’s breathing fast, Balin’s heart thumping in his ears. Those weeks in the cage, cold, starving, he’d wanted her. Wanted her soft touch. Her amused smile. He’d kept her stored in his mind in the hidden places Zebbens couldn’t beat out of him.

“We have to fight him, Elaine. Every one of us, we all have to do what we can.”

“Then, Balin,” she argued, her voice a terse whisper, “that means I need to be out there, too.”

Through his bangs, he saw her looking at him. He rolled his forehead against hers until their noses touched. “You can’t go out there, Elaine,” he whispered, the words hovering between their nearly touching lips.

“I’m a better fencer than you.”

“Fencer, not swordsman, they aren’t the same.”

Behind him, the door opened.

“Oh, Miss, I’m so sorry to intrude,” Kirsten said.

The air crackled with anticipation, but Kirsten, so-sorry-to-intrude, didn’t leave.

Balin bowed his head and slowly pulled away. Then he turned to the handmaiden. “Hello, Kirsten.”

 

Doesn't this book sound amazing?! You can grab your copy on Amazon


Vanessa MacLella


Vanessa MacLellan was born and raised in the farmlands of eastern Washington, works as an environmental engineer, and is an avid birder, naturalist and hiker living in Portland, Oregon.

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Sunday, July 31, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — The Du Lac Chronicles (Book 1 of The Du Lac Chronicles) by Mary Anne Yarde #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalFantasy #BlogTour @maryanneyarde

Today I am hosting the fabulous Mary Anne Yarde - just check out the cover of her book, The Du Lac Chronicles, isn't it amazing?! Thank you to The Coffee Pot Book Club for inviting me to be a part of this tour.


The Du Lac Chronicles
(Book 1 of The Du Lac Chronicles)
By Mary Anne Yarde


A generation after Arthur Pendragon ruled, Briton lies fragmented into warring kingdoms and principalities.

Eighteen-year-old Alden du Lac ruled the tiny kingdom of Cerniw. Now he half-hangs from a wooden pole, his back lashed into a mass of bloody welts exposed to the cold of a cruel winter night. He’s to be executed come daybreak—should he survive that long.

When Alden notices the shadowy figure approaching, he assumes death has come to end his pain. Instead, the daughter of his enemy, Cerdic of Wessex, frees and hides him, her motives unclear.

Annis has loved Alden since his ill-fated marriage to her Saxon cousin—a marriage that ended in blood and guilt—and she would give anything to protect him. Annis’s rescue of Alden traps them between a brutal Saxon king and Alden’s remaining allies. Meanwhile, unknown forces are carefully manipulating the ruins of Arthur’s legacy.

Trigger warnings:
Torture, Warfare



I have just bought my copy as this book sounds so amazing. If you would like to grab yours too you can find it on Amazon And get this, it is FREE to read with #KindleUnlimited - so what are you waiting for?!

Mary Anne Yarde

Mary Anne Yarde is a multi-award winning and bestselling author of Historical Fiction, as well as an award-winning blogger. She studied History at Cardiff University and went on to study Equine Science at Warwickshire College.

Mary Anne is a passionate advocate for quality Historical Fiction and founded The Coffee Pot Book Club in 2015 and became a professional Editorial Reviewer in 2016.

Mary Anne's award-winning series, The Du Lac Chronicles, is set a generation after the fall of King Arthur. The Du Lac Chronicles takes you on a journey through Dark Age Britain and Brittany, where you will meet new friends and terrifying foes. Based on legends and historical fact, The Du Lac Chronicles is a series not to be missed

Born in Bath, England, Mary Anne grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood.

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Friday, July 22, 2022


Love You Again
(Love You, Maine, #2)
By Julia Kent


Set in the woodsy small town of Luview, “Love You,” Maine – a tourist favorite where every day is Valentine’s Day – local police officer and single dad Luke Luview has spent the last two years making his young daughter his priority after his wife’s death. When first-love Kylie Hood comes back into town under bizarre circumstances, he learns that nothing’s a coincidence – and maybe second chances are possible after all.

If you’re looking for a fun read about first kisses, second chances, featuring a hot single dad small town police officer and his accidental nanny, set in a small town in New England, with a golden retriever named Jester, a heroine whose dream in life is to run a fairy camp, and a hero who wants to build a place where everyone belongs – then this is your book.

Grab a cup of coffee, tea, and maybe some edible glitter, and get your happy meter ready as you read the second book in the Love You, Maine series – where love isn’t just a feeling – it’s a way of life.

✓Single Dad
✓Second chance
✓Small town romance
✓Local police officer and his last-minute nanny
…and a Golden Retriever named Jester


EXCERPT

A white puff of air filled the space between him and the steering wheel, and he realized he’d sighed. How long had he been sitting here, mind and memory in the past? Shoving his hands into gloves, he opened the rear door, grabbed the white plastic bag, and made his way to the front of the bin.

Determined, focused, and grim: That was Luke Luview these days. A bad match for a town that existed to make people feel good about love.

Living in Love You, Maine–heck, being a Luview–was never harder than when you had a broken heart.

Time to let go of some of the pain.

“AAAAAAooooooooo,” called out a band of coyotes in the distance, making Luke jolt. His personal weapon was at home. He didn’t carry it in the glove compartment or on his body when he was off duty, but as the coyote population grew in the area, maybe he should.

A few feet from the donation bin’s front, he looked at the lever to pull down, squeezing the bag slightly. A whiff of Amber’s perfume caught his nose, so faint he almost imagined it.

Colleen had washed all the clothes a few weeks ago, so he knew he imagined Amber’s scent. Didn’t matter. He’d take the illusion. That was how much he hurt.

A skitter inside the box made him frown.

Damn animals. They got in those bins all the time. He felt sorry for the poor sap who emptied these metal boxes, carting all the goods to the warehouse in Manchester where they cleaned and sorted, getting it all ready for the second-hand retail stores.

Just do this, he thought, swallowing hard as the coyotes mated in the distance. The sound was violent and creepy, but for whatever reason, it felt fitting.

Throwing the tangible reminders of that terrible day into the donation box felt dangerous, too.

“I love you, Amber,” he murmured. “But I have to let you go. Have to let that day go. Harriet needs a daddy who isn’t tied down by grief. Just because I’m doing this doesn’t mean I love you any less, though.”

Tears pricked his eyes. “Why is this so hard? Because it’s hard,” he said with a huff. “That’s what you would say if you were here. You’d hug me and comfort me and tell me feelings are meant to be felt or they’d be called something else. You’d have all the right words. I don’t have any. I just have a big hole in my life, Amber. And you’re never going to fill it. Colleen says I can’t feel guilty for moving on. I don’t. But I sure do feel weird.”

And then he reached for the handle, pulled it down, and threw the bag in while calling out loudly, “I love you.”

To his utter shock, she replied from the darkness of the box, “I’m in here!”


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Julia Kent

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. Since 2013, she has sold more than 2 million books, with 4 New York Times bestsellers and more than 21 appearances on the USA Today bestseller list. Her books have been translated into French, German, and Italian, with more titles releasing in the future.

From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men's room toilet (and he isn't a billionaire she met in a romantic comedy).

She lives in New England with her husband and three children where she is the only person in the household with the gene required to change empty toilet paper rolls.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

On tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club — The Girl from Bologna (Girls from the Italian Resistance) by Siobhan Daiko @siobhandaiko @maryanneyarde

 



The Girl from Bologna 
(Girls from the Italian Resistance)
By Siobhan Daiko


Bologna, Italy, 1944, and the streets are crawling with German soldiers. Nineteen-year-old Leila Venturi is shocked into joining the Resistance after her beloved best friend Rebecca, the daughter of a prominent Jewish businessman, is ruthlessly deported to a concentration camp.

In February 1981, exchange student Rhiannon Hughes arrives in Bologna to study at the university. There, she rents a room from Leila, who is now middle-aged and infirm. Leila’s nephew, Gianluca, offers to show Rhiannon around but Leila warns her off him.

Soon Rhiannon finds herself being drawn into a web of intrigue. What is Gianluca’s interest in a far-right group? And how is the nefarious head of this group connected to Leila? As dark secrets emerge from the past, Rhiannon is faced with a terrible choice. Will she take her courage into both hands and risk everything?

An evocative, compelling read, “The Girl from Bologna” is a story of love lost, daring exploits, and heart wrenching redemption.



By this point, I don’t need to be tempted by pretty covers, or the prospect of reading a book set in Italy for me to agree to read it. I just need to see this author’s name to get overly excited about reading the book. I impatiently awaited the arrival of my copy, and absolutely could not wait to get started.

Leila has decided to take an exchange student, Rhiannon, into her home, while she dictates her memoirs and records them. Little does she know, the things she talks about, what she experienced during the 1940s in Bologna, are still massively important to what is happening in Italy. She might think that she is simply making sure her story does not end up lost and forgotten, but there is so much more to it when the past resurfaces. 

Rhiannon only really came to Italy to improve her Italian speaking, but somehow, school is given second priority when things start to happen. Meeting Marie, another exchange student, Rhiannon thinks she has found a friend, but Marie acts strangely, and some of the things she does and says make no sense. On top of that, Leila’s nephew, Gianluca, seems to take an interest in Marie. He is a freelance reporter, and the interest he takes in her seems to be to do with that, rather than in the sense of a relationship. 

I loved the way of showing the past in this book. The past and the present don’t have separate chapters, but you find out about the past through Leila’s recordings, just as Gianluca and, eventually, Rhiannon do. By keeping Leila’s past and present in the same chapters, it really ties in the idea that ‘the past is never past’. The past shouldn’t simply be resigned to being ‘history’, because everything that happened is still always having an effect on everything that is happening. Leila’s past helps Gianluca and Rhiannon understand what is happening, for there is a mystery afoot, and while it starts and ends with Marie, she is not the only person involved.

If you have read any of my reviews for the other books I’ve read by this author, you’ll know that I have a lifelong dream of travelling to Italy, but I have young children and I haven’t been able to start a holiday fund because I keep spending all my money on books. When I told my husband that I had another book by this author, and then re-explained the plot of the previous two books, for he evidently had no idea what author I was talking about, he resigned himself to the fact that we would be eating ‘Italian’ food for the next few days, while I read it. Unfortunately for me, this book goes into wonderful detail about the food Leila makes, and Rhiannon is introduced to. My usual ‘Italian’ food is frozen pizza, or cheesy pasta, but reading about all the amazing food made me want to try piadine, I wanted all the fancy-sounding pasta dishes, I wanted plates of cold meat and salad after my meal… while I haven’t had any of this yet, date night with my husband is rapidly approaching, and he has already agreed that we will be going to an Italian restaurant! I can’t wait!

While I may spend ages gushing about the food, and my desire to go to Italy, there are some heartbreaking moments in this book. Leila spent time with a group of Gappisti, and they worked to try and free prisoners. She does end up picking up a gun as well, and fights for her country, but, in the line of fire, she loses people close to her, and she herself suffers through being captive, and subject to violent questioning. Definitely be prepared for some harrowing scenes.

Once again, this author has rekindled my love for Italian fiction. I haven’t actually read much of it, in general, apart from when a new book comes out in this series and I absolutely have to read it. If you like historical fiction, and you like Italy, this series is the one for you. This has to be one of my favourite authors of all time!


I highly recommend you grab a copy of this book, which you can do over on Amazon And guess what... if you have #KindleUnlimited this novel is free to read. 


Siobhan Daiko

Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. After a life of romance and adventure in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK, Siobhan now spends her time indulging her love of writing and enjoying her life near Venice.

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