Category Archives: ARC
Steeped in Secrets by Lauren Elliott
Steeped in Secrets
A Crystals & CuriosiTEAS Mystery Series, Book 1
Flat broke and divorced, intuitive gemologist Shay Myers has changed since leaving her artsy hometown of coastal Bray Harbor sixteen years ago. But when she moves back under strange circumstances, old instincts may be the only key to spilling the tea on a deadly mystery.
Even with her life in ruins in New Mexico, Shay feels uneasy about settling into the small seaside town where she grew up on California’s Monterey Peninsula and taking over an estate bequeathed to her by Bridget Early, a woman she had barely known. Her heightened senses—an empathic gift she’s had since childhood—go into overdrive upon touring Crystals & CuriosiTEAS, Bridget’s eclectic tea and psychic shop brimming with Irish lore and Celtic symbols. They reach a boiling point when Shay looks up to discover a stranger’s body sprawled across the shop’s greenhouse roof . . .
With her new business a crime scene and questions brewing over Bridget’s so-called accidental death, Shay fears she’s also inherited the attention of a killer. The terrifying realization sets her on an impractical investigation for answers aided by her sister, an elusive pure-white German Shepherd, a strikingly handsome pub owner who speaks in a gentle brogue, and a misunderstood young woman with perceptive talents of her own. As Shay struggles to figure out her true purpose in Bray Harbor and the powerful connection she has with the tea shop, she must trust her judgment above all else to identify a ruthless murderer and save herself from becoming victim number three.
Lauren Elliott’s new Steeped in Secrets is as warm and magical as it is mysterious.
I think I’m in love with just one book. Steeped in Secrets, the first book of the Crystals and CuriosiTEAS Mystery series by Lauren Elliott. Starting with the beautiful setting of Bray Harbour, California, a cozy little coastal town in the Monterey Peninsula. Then we have Shay. A woman, returning home after being robbed of everything by her now ex-husband, who not only ruined their marriage, but also her business as well. Her return to Bray Harbor comes with a little mystery herself. She has been bequeathed an estate from a woman that she barely knew. Then the secrets just start pouring out from there. I will admit it sounds like a hot mess but once you start reading it all comes together into a beautiful and magical story.
She quickly sees that the mysteries are piling up. From why she was left the estate, to a dead body found in the greenhouse on her roof to the secrets that keep on failing themselves, just as she thinks she’s got an answer to one of the previous secrets.
With the help and guidance of a beautiful, white German shepherd named, Spirit, a misunderstood teen, who may just understand things more than what most realize, and an Irish gentleman who believes in fairies, Shea begins to navigate her way through one mystery after the other.
Lauren Elliott has truly made a magical story with Steeped in Secrets. I eagerly wait to see what is going to happen with Shay.
Hallow’s End by Kristen Proby
The Curse of the Blood Moon Series, Book 1
Returning to her beloved home of Salem after a trip away, Lucy Finch can’t shake the feeling of anxiety that suddenly plagues her. Nor can she shrug off her third eye’s urging that she has a mission she must undertake—a secret she must uncover.
As a green witch, Lucy has always felt strongest and the most at home in the forest, surrounded by nature. But when a disturbing dream wakes her and sends her fleeing into the woods, she isn’t prepared for what she finds. She expected her element. Perhaps a message from spirit. She didn’t expect to cross paths with a sexy-as-sin man, straight out of a movie scene.
Jonas Morley isn’t like the other residents of Hallows End. He knows the town’s secrets, as well as Salem’s, and it has been his honor and duty to protect them for as long as he can remember. But the gorgeous witch who graces the town’s hidden border shakes him and makes him second-guess his directive. She calls to him like no other. But can he save his home and those under his care and still make her his? Or will their union mean danger and destruction for not only them but also those who live within the town’s borders?
Curses don’t discriminate, and the curse of the blood moon is the most determined and dangerous of all.
Hallows End is the first book in the Curse of the Blood Moon Series.
Review: Claimed by Jayne Rylon
Powertools: The Shields Series, Book 5
First published August 16, 2022
When Karolena answered an ad for a live-in housekeeper responsible for taking care of at least a dozen guys, she was obviously desperate.
Although she hadn’t realized they were spies and assassins when she accepted the position, it could work out for the best since the Shields’ headquarters might be the only place she’s safe from the evil ex hunting her.
That is, if she doesn’t give in to the two agents that live across the hall who tempt her to do things that could be dangerous to her still healing heart.
Tavish is more than willing to show Karolena a good time so long as that’s as far as it goes. He’s learned the very hard way that it’s fine to sleep with women, or men, so long as you don’t trust them.
That’s only because Tavish’s partner—both in the field and the bedroom—has always made sure his judgement isn’t compromised when they surrender to their non-traditional urges together. Legend is the one person Tavish is certain has his back since he’s proved it over and over on life or death missions yet still, he’s not able to give the man the affection he deserves along with plenty of satisfaction.
So when they find themselves entangled with their housekeeper, and her ties to the mafia, they have to decide whether she’s capable of bringing the three of them together permanently or whether they have to get rid of her before she wrecks them for good.
The next multipartner romance in NYT and USA Today bestselling author Jayne Rylon’s fan-favorite Powertools Universe. Visit your favorite characters or meet new ones in this interconnected why choose standalone in the Powertools: The Shields ménage series.
Karolena has lived a Life that no one should ever have to indoor. Running away from her home in Russia and her mafia husband, she ends up in the United States in a small town in which nothing too exciting should be happening. Just trying to earn a living, have a place to live and basically blend in, Little did Karolena she ended up in hands of some of the best people she could possibly want on her side.
Tavish and Legend are not only partners in the field, but they are also partners in the bedroom. There are not too many people Tavish trusts at his back and Legend is one of them. They have been on too many life-or-death missions together and have proven not only their trust but their unique affections as well. When a new housekeeper shows up at Shilds, The men are more than willing to show her a good time in any way she wants. However, when her story doesn’t check out, they are the ones assigned to try and figure out what is truly going on. Is she a plant in their home or is there something else behind that beautiful woman?
Claimed is a fast paced, intense and emotional. This is one of those stories that as soon as you start reading it it hits you hard and fast and doesn’t stop until you’re at the very last page. Jayne Rylon Is a master at multiple people intimacy and this is one of those stories that is done beautifully tastefully and is so hot you may have to be fanning yourself. If you are a fan of beautiful men in tuxedos or have a love for kilts, my goodness you are in for a treat. Karolena lived a hard life where her choices were taken away from her. Tavish and Legend are a beautiful duo that balance each other out in just the right way. They are giving, protective and more than willing. They had some work to do between themselves and along with Karolena together, the three of them, through the blissful moments and the moments of incredible danger. They overcame the danger, worked through some of their internal struggles and found a way to find happiness. Together, as a trio.
Review: Always the One for Me by Carrie Ann Ryan
Always the One foe Me
Carrie Ann Ryan
The Wilder Brothers Series, Book 2
320 pages, Paperback
First published August 15, 2022
The Wilder Brothers from NYT Bestselling Author Carrie Ann Ryan continue in this emotionally charged enemies to lovers romance.
It took two days for me to know Kendall was the one for me.
And it took two years for me to realize I had to leave in order to protect her.
When I walked away, I told myself it was for the best. But now we work together, and every time we’re in the same room, we end up fighting. If we didn’t, we’d end up naked. Or worse–spilling heartbreaking secrets.
If she knew the truth, she’d either walk away for good or convince me to take a second chance. The first thing would break me, and the second would break her. I can’t let either of those things happen…
A story so raw and emotional it feels almost real.
What an amazing story for a second chance at love. Always the One for Me is the story of Evan and Kendall.
Evan, a career military man until an accident takes that away from him. Now he has come together with his brothers and he’s running an amazing resort and winery. Evan carries a lot of issues from his past. His time in the military has left a toll on him, and created other issues in his everyday life.
Kendall is an amazing chef and worked very hard to get there. She’s a bit of a workaholic but that comes with working in a kitchen. She now has a position of head chef but it comes with a price. Working side-by-side with her ex-husband who broke her heart has her feeling all sorts of things. Some she wants, some she doesn’t and others that just come and there’s nothing that she can do about it.
Kendall and Evan met, fell in love and got married all within a matter of days. It was like fate put them together to give them something magical. Then in just a short time things fell apart. Evan who experienced one of the worst moments of his life and intern made decisions that affected not only him but his wife. Choosing to walk away left both of them brokenhearted. Fast forward years later and once again fate has stepped in and put the two of them close together. Always the One for Me is an emotional ride of a story. There are so many feelings, memories and What Ifs. What if they try again and it doesn’t work, but if they don’t try and they’re missing out on the best thing they could’ve had. Second chance romances are a finicky thing and Carrie Ann Ryan does this one perfectly in every way. Kendall and Evan never stopped loving each other but yet couldn’t seem to get along with one another. They had a mountain to climb but yet in the end they knew they were the ones for each other.
Review: A Dish to Die For by Lucy Burdette
A Dish to Die For
Key West Food Critic Mystery Series, Book 12
288 pages, Hardcover
First published August 9, 2022
National bestselling author Lucy Burdette returns to Key West for another delectable dish of secrets, intrigue, and murder.
Peace and quiet are hard to find in bustling Key West, but Hayley Snow, food critic for Key Zest magazine, is taking the afternoon off for a tranquil lunch with a friend outside of town. When she comes home, she discovers her husband Nathan’s dog, Ziggy, has disappeared. She follows his barking, to find him furiously digging at a shallow grave with a man’s body in it. Davis Jager, a local birdwatcher, identifies him as GG Garcia, a rabble-rousing Key West local and developer. Garcia was famous for over-development on the fragile Keys, womanizing, and refusing to follow city rules—so it’s no wonder he had a few enemies.
When Davis is attacked in the parking lot of a local restaurant after talking to Hayley and her dear friend, the octogenarian Miss Gloria, Hayley is slowly but surely drawn into the case. Hayley’s mother, Janet, has been hired to cater GG’s memorial service reception at the local women’s club, using recipes from their vintage Key West cookbook—and Hayley and Miss Gloria sign on to work with her, hoping to cook up some clues by observing the mourners.
But the real clues come when Hayley begins to study the old cookbook, as whispers of old secrets come to life, dragging the past into the present—with murderous results.
A Dish to Die For takes readers to beautiful Key West where food critic and amateur sleuth Haley Snow is looking for a bit of peace and quiet in this bustling tropical town. After a well needed peaceful day ends Haley comes home to find her puppy missing only to find him digging at a shallow grave with a body in it. Afters a series of events that slowly draw Haley‘s attention to the case. With the help of her fun octogenarian friend Miss Gloria and Haley’s mom in listing their help, they are hoping to cook up some clues to solve this case.
I absolutely love the series. A Dish to Die For is A bit on the dark side for cozy mystery but that does not make it less entertaining. When the most notorious man in town is the one found dead there are bound to be a few dark secrets that come to light. The mystery did not get it for me but I do enjoy this cast of characters tremendously. Haley and her cop husband are living their best life on a houseboat with their adored pets. Living in a tropical community. Although stumbling upon dead bodies it’s not something I would want to be a part of my paradise but that’s what makes a good read. Author Lucy Burdette knows how to catch your attention, give you a setting that you absolutely enjoy and characters that you fall in love with very easily.
Like most food related cozy mysteries we get some wonderful recipes along with our story. There are some delectable bites mentioned within the tail and some recipes that are very tempting to try.
Review: In Too Steep by Kate Kingsbury
In Too Steep
Misty Bay Tearoom Series, Book 2
It seemed like a simple case: the murder of Lewis Trenton, a beachcomber who lived alone in a cabin in the Oregon hills. But the newspaper article piques the interest of Vivian Wainwright, owner of the British-style Misty Bay Tearoom. The photo accompanying the article shows Lewis’s cluttered living room, and on the shelf is a replica of Big Ben. Vivian is sure she sold the clock a week before in her shop. Who could have given the replica to Lewis?
Unable to keep from doing a bit of sleuthing, Vivian hunts down the replica in a local thrift shop, noticing that the base is missing, rendering it worthless, but just as Vivian is about to throw it in the trash, a sparkle catches her eye. It’s a diamond, hidden away in a crevice in the clock. Vivian takes the diamond to Detective Tony Messina, who identifies it as part of a jewelry heist in Portland a month earlier. Portland police think Lewis was the fence who sold the jewels, and that he was killed after double-crossing the thieves—but Messina doesn’t believe the story.
What was the true motive behind Lewis’s murder? How did he come upon the diamond? And what secrets can the clock tell—before the killer strikes again?
I love a tearoom cozy!
Vivian Wainwright was shocked to find out hermit who love to come to beach had been murdered. when a newspaper article gathers Vivians interest. Showing a replica of a Big Ben, Vivian is sure she sold the clock a week before and her cozy little tea shop. Unable to keep the article and picture from her mind Vivian starts to do a bit of sleuthing and tracks down the object at a thrift store. Obtaining the object noticing it broken she thinks it’s almost worthless until a second look has her calling the police right away. This mystery has more and more layers as it goes on.
What an amazing introduction to this author and her series. Kate Kingsbury knows how to write a cozy mystery. She has engaging characters, a wonderful setting and describes her delectable treats so well that you could possibly be gaining weight while you read the book. I’m just joking on that but seriously they do sound good. We even get a little bit of romance sprinkled in here. Vivian has two employees that also are her friends that are a hoot. Vivian definitely grabbed your attention and has no fear for danger. Well maybe she does but that’s still not gonna keep her from sleuthing. I love the town of Misty Bay Oregon. Usually if I don’t read the first book in the series I don’t go back because I feel like I’ve got enough to go on. I enjoyed In Too Steep so much that I will be going back and reading the first book and probably do a reread of this one just to feel like I’ve had my fill of tea and know everything that’s going on. Or that we know that’s going on at this point.
Review: Bayou Sweetheart by Lexi Blake
Butterfly Bayou Series, Book 5
After leaving the military, Major Blanchard moved to Papillon, Louisiana, to be with his aging father, where he’s taken a deputy position with the sheriff’s department. Now that he’s settling into life on the bayou, he’s trying out the dating scene. Every single woman in town seems to be pining after the handsome newcomer. But so far, nothing’s worked out, and he’s had some spectacularly bad dates. Major’s getting ready to give up on love when a new lady roars into town to film a movie and turns his world upside down.
Actress Brynn Pearson is trying to make a successful transition from child star to leading lady. Now that she’s landed her first lead in a major film, nothing can stop her. She’s committed to focusing solely on her work, so romance is the last thing she needs—too bad she can’t get her mind off the dreamy deputy she keeps running into. He’s gorgeous, and something about him makes her feel safe. As Brynn’s feelings for Major deepen, she starts to wonder if maybe there’s more to life than her career.
When a family crisis throws Major’s life into a tailspin, he turns to Brynn for support, and hopes their budding relationship will shine brighter than Hollywood lights.
I love visiting Butterfly Bayou!
Bayou Sweetheart is the latest edition to Lexi Blake’s small town Romance series Butterfly Bayou. This is one of those types of stories that I love we’re both our main characters find love when they least expect it.
Brynn Pearson is an actress dedicated to her craft. Brynn has come to Pappyon to film her latest movie. Doing research and getting a jumpstart on what her role entails yet she questions whether acting as what she really wants to continue doing. Her family depends on her and she doesn’t want to let anyone down. Yet acting does it make her as happy as it once did. Being in Papillion and the to do of Hollywood, Brynn is finding out who she really is and what she actually wants in life. Running into the small town sheriff has sparked many feelings and emotions within Brynn. The girl is not looking for love but love has a funny way of finding you when you least expect it.
Major Blanchard Is ex ex-military and has relocated to Papillon, Louisiana to be with and help care for his aging father. He finds himself a position within the sheriffs department and has nicely settled into small-town life on the Bayou. On the other hand he’s been trying the dating scene and has not worked out too well. It seems like everyone wants to try but no sparks are flying. Just as he’s about to give up, a bombshell of a beauty makes her way into town and takes him by storm.
Bayou Sweetheart is a fantastic small town romance. I love this quirky little town and all the crazy yet amazing things that happened within it. Major and Brynn have chemistry and then some. I love that they look beyond the surface of each other and see who they truly are. The way that Major talks to Brian makes my heart feel pitter patter. There is a good deal of humor and a great deal of emotion lining the pages story. Both of them have their issues that they’re dealing with very different but yet choices that will affect their lives and those around them. They always say when you’re not looking for love is when you find it and that was the story for Major and Brynn.
Review: Murder Spills the Tea by Vicky Delany
Murder Spills the Tea
Tea by the Sea Mystery Series, Book 3
Suspicion immediately falls on Cheryl, but the temperamental star has racked up plenty of culinary clashes in the past, both on- and off-screen. And nearly anyone associated with Tommy or the show could be the killer: be it one of Lily’s fierce competitors, a member of the beleaguered film crew, or even one of Tommy’s fellow judges–struggling cookbook maven, Claudia D’Angelo or beauty contest winner, Scarlet McIntosh. Now, while she’s baking up a storm for the show, Lily must also whip up an impromptu investigation . . . before the murderer rolls someone else away.
I love the Tea by the Sea Mysteries.
Murder Spills the Tea has us back to our favorite tea shop in Cape Cod. Lilly is nervously gearing up for a cooking competition. Her grandma Rose and friend Bernie have convinced her that this is a fantastic idea. Lily is already at the point that she regrets her decision. With a potential exposure for the tea shop being very high but yet a TV crew making havoc in the busiest time of the year has Lily finding it a most unpleasant experience. The experience has become agitating, and aggravating and Lilly is about done with the whole experience. Things just seem to get a bit worse when a body is found in the kitchen and one of the staff of the tearoom is accused of murder. Lily along with the help of Grandma Rose and Bernie make it their mission to discover who the real killer is.
I have been very fortunate and have gotten to read each of the Tea by the Sea mysteries as arcs for review for the blog. I genuinely love this series. Usually, it takes me more than three books to say that, but Lily and Grandma Rose have made a little place in my heart for themselves. Murder Spills the Tea Is a fantastic addition to this cozy mystery series. The atmosphere is amazing, the characters are well developed and grow with each book and are extremely entertaining. The mysteries are written well, and the stories are well played. Vicky Delany Knows how to weave a good mystery story to catch your attention and give her characters much personality and charisma that you can’t help but to enjoy your time with them.
Review: The Paper Caper by Kate Carlisle
The Paper Caper
Bibliophile Mystery Series, Book 16
Joseph Cabot is a very popular wealthy San Franciscan who owns the main newspaper in town, as well as radio stations and TV. Years ago, Brooklyn’s husband Derek and his security team rescued Joseph from an assassination attempt and now the man and his wife are friendly with Derek and Brooklyn. The friendship is helped along by the fact that Joseph is a big book lover and contributes lavishly to the Covington Library. His favorite author is Mark Twain (another newspaperman) and he’s underwritten the first annual Mark Twain Festival at the Covington.
As part of the festival activities, Brooklyn will spend a few hours every day at the Library, giving demonstrations of her work at re-binding an old copy of The Prince and the Pauper. There will be events all week, all around town, celebrating the time Twain spent in the city. But the biggest event is being run by Joseph’s newspaper: a citywide contest based on The Prince and The Pauper—they want to find someone who looks like Joseph! The two men will trade places for a week as part of a huge publicity campaign to raise money for the Covington Library. But the fun turns frantic when a murder occurs right before Brooklyn’s eyes! Now Brooklyn and Derek will have to chase clues all over their beloved city to solve the murder before another death becomes front-page news.
What a fun read.
It’s time for the first annual mark twain festival and Brooklyn Wainwright could not be more excited. Joseph Cabot, The local newspaper man is sponsoring the event with many contests and lots of prizes. What should be an amazing event with lots of literary fun, has gone a bit to the dark side with a murderer too. Brooklyn and Derek seem to be right in the middle of things. With lots of questions and just as many suspects, Brooklyn does all she can to get to the bottom of this caper.
The Paper Caper was my first read of the Bibliophile Mystery Series. Brooklyn is amazing. Not only is she smart and intuitive, the passion that she has involving books. Makes her a gal after my own heart. I loved reading about the restoration process and how passionate she is. I really enjoyed the Mark Twain Festival and the switching of positions for two different people to see a different side of life. With this being a well-established series there is a core group of characters that mesh well together and truly make the story come alive. Kate Carlisle has something very special with this series. It intrigues the reader with a good mystery, has characters that are relatable and fun. There is a great bit of humor mixed in with this mystery which I truly loved. The Paper Caper is a great rate for any cozy mystery lover.
Review: Dragon Eternal by Donna Grant
Dragon Kings Series, Book 4
In the next installment of her captivating new Dragon Kings series, New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant connects an enigmatic and determined Dragon King and a courtesan sent to tempt him to his doom.
He’s a man of few words, but she fills his soul with poetry.
Quiet. Brooding. Capable. Shaw’s mission is simple: Root out Stonemore’s leader and determine what the Divine has in store for the people of Zora and the Kings. Just as he gets started, however, a breathtakingly beautiful woman finds and tempts him like no other. Nothing can stop him from engaging in the pleasures she offers. After all, pillow talk is sometimes the best way to uncover secrets.
Nia’s life has never been hers. From starving on the streets to becoming a slave to the Divine, she merely does what’s needed to survive. But when her latest assignment brings her face-to-face with a handsome man who makes her feel things she’s never experienced before, she begins to see that while she’s been living, she’s not really thriving.
As truths are revealed, and Nia’s blinders are removed, she realizes that she can no longer sit by and allow things to continue as they have been in her city. It’s time to take a stand. With Shaw by her side, they spark a war so many have tried to avoid. But the injustices being perpetrated must be stopped—no matter the cost.
Zora, the realm of the kings has an evil brewing for both its people and the dragons. As the kings set in motion a plan to find out what it is they are exactly dealing with.
Nia is a courtier and a slave for the Divine. Appearances are not all they seem to be. Her exterior shows a wealthy woman in control of her life she is truly nothing more than a slave to the cause. Having suffered a horrific childhood, the divine may have given her a cushy existence but her freedom is something she can only dream of. Nia has her vacation cut short with a task from the divine to deliver one of the dragon kings that is in Stonemore.
Shaw is a man of few words, quite a bit brooding and king of the sapphires. I haven’t quite figured out if he has spent more years asleep or awake. Determine to figure out what is lurking in the shadows for the dragon kings it takes no time at all for Shaw to connect with a local who has more behind her stare than what she lets on. Soon realizing the divine already knows the kings are present and this woman was ready to hand him over for her freedom Shaw finds himself in a place that he has not been before. As the action begins Shaw wonders if he can’t save the girl and get the Divine.
Donna Grant weaves a thrilling tale with Dragon Eternal. Nia and Shaw have amazing chemistry. I love their moments spent together before and after one of the secrets is revealed. Their attraction was natural, and they complemented each other so well. I loved that Nia swore it was magic, that she can never be attracted to a man in that manner. As a story unfolds and more secrets are revealed the two of them make an amazing team. I loved visiting with some of our favorite Kings from past books. The danger is different than what we are used to and there’s a whole different set of rules for Zora. I am truly on the edge of my seat waiting to see how all of this is going to unfold in the end. Donna Grant’s world building is top-notch and amazing. It is so easy to get lost within her realms.