Thursday, March 26, 2015

RAISING THE STAKES by Karen Rock: Excerpt and Giveaway

Raising the Stakes
by Karen Rock
Publication Date: April 1, 2015
Published by Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 286

Hiding from the world… 

Tucking herself away in the Adirondack woods was supposed to keep Vivienne Harris safe. From dark memories of the Bronx, from danger, from entanglements. But when an orphaned bear cub raids her pantry and conservation officer Liam Walsh appears with news of poachers nearby, her private, peaceful world is turned upside down!

Suddenly two forces are drawing her out—Button, the cub who needs her help, and Liam, the man who's dead set against her rehabilitating the bear. If she can just win Liam's support, Vivie knows she can give Button a good life. And maybe find the courage to embrace a future with Liam…


“What about the cub?”
His gaze swerved to hers. “I’ll have to put it down if I can’t find the mother.”
Vivie clutched the back of a chair, lightheaded and nauseous. “What? No!” How could he say that so casually? 
“I’ve called around and our wildlife rehabilitators are overloaded. Since the cub is too young to fend for itself, the humane thing to do is—”
“Kill it?” she stormed, interrupting. “How is that humane?” The cub’s frightened eyes came to mind and she backed up against the pantry door. Officer or not, he wouldn’t take the bear. Stop her from helping. It’d come to her home. Had sought refuge here.
He pulled off his hat and rubbed his forehead. “Ma’am, I don’t expect you to understand. But you need to trust me and move aside so that I can do my job.”
“Not a chance,” she ground out, wishing her pepper spray wasn’t across the room.
“Please be reasonable.” He raised his eyebrows, looking harmless. His holstered weapon told a different story.
Maybe she could reason with him, though she’d failed before. There had to be a way to save the cub. “How do you become a wildlife rehabilitator?”
He drew in a long breath and crossed his arms over his chest. “Pass a certification test then work under the supervision of a rehabilitator for six months.”
Tests. She hated them. Had only ever done well on presentation-style exams in culinary school. Still, for the baby bear...anything. “And when is the next one?”
“In a week.” He made a vague motion in the air with his hand. “Look. I’d be happy to discuss that with you another time, but the cub might be suffering. Please step aside so that I can take it.”
She raised her voice over her drumming heartbeat. “I’ll pass the test. Get certified.”
He ran a hand through his hair, making the curl-tipped ends stand up. “You’d have to study hundreds of pages of online material. It’s not easy. Trust me. I took it and barely finished my apprenticeship before my academy training started.”
“So you’re a certified wildlife rehabilitator? You could care for it.”
His chin jerked. “I already have a job.”
Her mind shifted into overdrive, churning up possibilities. “Not next week. You said you’re on vacation. You could take her while I study for the test.”
He blew out a long breath. “I don’t have an enclosure—something you’ll need along with someone to supervise you.”
She tried to come across as commanding, though at five-foot-three inches that was always a challenge. “You could help with both.”
He shook his head, his earnest expression replaced with a wash of annoyance. “Out of the question. There are too many ifs in that idea.”
She tried keeping the heat out of her voice. The DEC. Always so difficult. Especially Walsh. “Why? I’m sure you could call in a favor. Ask one of the rehabilitators to find temporary space for the cub. Then I’ll pass the test and, with your help, be approved to care for it. Don’t you want to do the right thing?”
Wasn’t that his job?
“I do. Which is why I’m taking the bear. Now.”
“Not a chance. You’ll have to go through me first.” She hated to sound dramatic, use a cheesy line from bad TV, but there was no other way to say it.
A crease appeared between his brows, his eyes scanning hers. Finally, he released a long breath.
“How about this—I’ll take her to the vet where they’ll check her jaw, give her some food and a safe place to stay, temporarily, while I continue investigating.”
She considered, wishing she could trust him. But after her dealings with him before, her faith was on the short side.
“Let’s try this,” she countered. “I’ll go with you and stay with the bear until you come back. Then we’ll talk about what happens next.”
He settled his hat back on, pinching the indented top. “There’s no reason to get more involved, ma’am.”
She pulled out her cell and tapped in Maggie’s number. Someone could come by and pick up the pies. Another worker would be called in for an extra shift. The Homestead would manage without her today. She wasn’t leaving the cub’s side until she knew it’d be safe—from nature and the DEC.
“It’s much too late for that, Officer Walsh.”
She studied him for a long, heavy moment, then moved aside. If the cub’s mother was dead, then she’d take on the role.
And nothing was more ferocious than a mama bear…


Karen Rock is an award-winning YA and adult contemporary romance author. She holds a master’s degree in English and worked as an ELA instructor before becoming a full-time writer.  Currently she writes for Harlequin Heartwarming and has published five novels with them. Her first novel for the line, WISH ME TOMORROW, has won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the 2014 Golden Quill Contest and was a finalist in the Published Maggie Awards. The first novel in her co-authored YA series, CAMP BOYFRIEND, has been a finalist in the Booksellers Best and Golden Leaf awards.

Find Karen Rock Online

Quarterly Newsletter:
Amazon Author Page:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Backstage Pass Series

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Backstage Pass series

Aimee and the Heartthrob 
by Ophelia London 
Publication Date 4/14/15
Published by: Entangled Crush

He never noticed her before, but now she's all he can see…

Miles Carlisle is every teen girl’s fantasy. His rugged good looks and exotic British accent have helped catapult his boy band, Seconds to Juliet, to super-stardom. But after two disastrous and very public breakups, Miles isn’t interested in dating just any girl; he wants The One. And the only girl he’s interested in is not only his best friend’s little sister―and off-limits―but won’t even give him the time of day…

As a kid, Aimee Bingham ‫   had a huge thing for Miles…until he made fun of her for always tagging along. Now that she’s outgrown both him and her pigtails, the prospect of spending two weeks on tour with the childhood crush who broke her heart isn’t exactly enticing. Except now Miles seems interested. Very interested. And no matter how hard Aimee tries to resist him, her crush is definitely making a comeback.

 But everyone knows that falling for a heartthrob is a backstage pass to heartbreak…


Mia and the Bad Boy 
by Lisa Burstein 
Publication Date 5/19/15
Published by Entangled Crush

This good girl’s about to meet her match…
Ryder Brooks is living the dream—he’s famous, loved by millions of girls, and miserable. All he really wants is to write his own music, not Seconds to Juliet’s sugary sweet pop. In order to do that, though, the “bad boy” of the band will have to play by the rules. And that includes behaving with his new—and super cute—über-good-girl tutor.

Mia Reyes is in fangirl heaven. Tutoring her favorite member of her favorite band? It’s a dream come true…until it turns into a complete nightmare. Ryder is nothing like she thought. He’s crude, arrogant, and pretty much a total jerk. And the worst part? She’s roped into pretending to be his girlfriend so that no one finds out he’s being tutored. Fake kisses, plenty of PDA, and even sharing his hotel room…

But sometimes even the baddest of bad boys needs a little redemption.

Why I'm Waiting
  • I've been known to fangirl over a certain favorite band, so I can see the appeal of having a crush on the members of this fictional band
  • A favorite author, Lisa Burstein, has a book in the series
  • There are 3 more books in the series and I'll have the opportunity to discover some new-to-me authors
  • I enjoy reading companion novels
  • The books just seem like they will be a lot of fun to read: music, humor, kissing, cute boys - sounds like a good time to me!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cover Reveal: SIGNS OF LIFE by Selene Castrovilla

I've waited and waited for this book! And even though it doesn't come out until November and will have to wait a while longer, I'm happy to share the cover of SIGNS OF LIFE (Rough Romance #2, sequel to MELT)! 

Check it out!! 

Signs of Life (Rough Romance #2) by Selene Castrovilla


(Rough Romance #2) 

by Selene Castrovilla 

Last Syllable Books Release 

Date: November 10, 2015

No good deed goes unpunished… The tables are turned with a vengeance in this tour de force sequel to MELT. Now it’s Dorothy who is fragmented and lost, while Joey keeps the promise he made her to better himself – even though she’s gone. Joey tells his story “now ”—nearly a year after the shocking conclusion of MELT. Dorothy tells what happened “then”— in the moments and hours after the Glock dropped. This time the stakes are even higher, as Joey forces himself to move forward while Dorothy is frozen in place. But when he learns of a devastating decision, Joey races to find her before it’s too late. Truth, consequence, repercussion and modern medicine collide as pieces converge in this psychological, thrilling story, which begs the question: Can love really conquer all?

 I love this cover! I like the arrows in the letters because it shows that life can take you in many directions - that there isn't just one way that is the right way. And the hues in the cover and it gives off the same feeling as the cover of Melt. I can't wait to have a copy for my shelf!

What do you think of the cover?

Haven't started this series, yet? 
Check out book one below and grab a copy today!

MELT by Selene Castrovilla

Based on true events, MELT is both a chilling tale of abuse, and a timeless romance. MELT will hit you like a punch in the face, and also seep through the cracks in your soul. MELT is a brutal love story set against the metaphorical backdrop of The Wizard of Oz (not a retelling). When sixteen year old Dorothy moves to the small town of Highland Park, she meets, and falls for Joey – a “bad boy” who tells no one about the catastrophic domestic violence he witnesses at home. Can these two lovers survive peer pressure, Joey’s reputation, and his alcoholism? Told in dual first person, Joey’s words are scattered on the page – reflecting his broken state. Dorothy is the voice of reason – until something so shattering happens that she, too, may lose her grip. Can their love endure, or will it melt away?

 MELT: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About Selene Castrovilla

Selene CastrovillaWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest

Selene Castrovilla is an award-winning teen and children’s author who believes that through all trends, humanity remains at the core of literature. She is the author of Saved By the Music and The Girl Next Door, teen novels originally published by WestSide Books and now available digitally through ASD Publishing. Her third children’s book with Calkins Creek Books, Revolutionary Friends, has received numerous accolades. She is also a contributing author to UncommonYA. Selene holds an MFA in creative writing from New School University and a BA in English from New York University. She lives on Long Island with her two sons. Visit her website for book excerpts and more information!


Monday, March 23, 2015

CHOOSE ME by Heidi McLaughlin - Cover Reveal

Today is the huge cover reveal for CHOOSE ME, book 2 of Heidi McLaughlin's Archer Brothers series. I was lucky enough to get an early sneak peek and immediately got "all the feels." I just love it!

Take a look!! 

ChooseMe Amazon
Two brothers.
One woman.
One son.
One choice.
Lives ripped apart, shattered and rebuilt.
Evan and Nate Archer: Brothers, best friends, warriors and now enemies. Both in love with the same woman. Both determined to fight for what they want.
Nate Archer promised to protect Ryley Clarke in the event Evan didn’t make it back. It’s a promise between brothers since the early days of basic training. Nate never considered that his feelings, long buried since high school, would resurface and grow stronger.
Evan Archer wants answers. He wants someone to pay. After being gone for an unprecedented amount of time, nothing is making sense now that he’s home. Most of all, he can't understand how his brother ended up engaged to his fiancée. Evan is determined to uncover the mystery, and win back his family.
The Archers are about to fight dirty.


Cover Designed by Sarah at Okay Creations

Moody portrait of young tough guy in train station
Choose Me Teaser2

Heidi Bio PicAboutTheAuthor
Heidi is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in picturesque Vermont, with her husband and two daughters. Also renting space in their home is an over-hyper Beagle/Jack Russell, Buttercup, two Parakeets, Gonzo & Hedwig, and their newest addition of a Highland West/Mini Schnauzer, Jill.

During the day Heidi is behind a desk talking about Land Use. At night, she's writing one of the many stories planned for release or sitting court-side during either daughter's basketball games.

Find Heidi Online

Books by Heidi McLaughlin

Forever My Girl - The Beaumont Series #1

My Unexpected Forever - The Beaumont Series #2

Finding My Forever - The Beaumont Series #3

Finding My Way - The Beaumont Series #4

My Everything - A Beaumont Series Novella

12 Days of Forever - A Beaumont Series Novella

Lost in Us - A Lost in You Novella

The Archer Brothers
Here with Me

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

Spotlight and Giveaway: Rockin' the Boat

Rockin’ the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries – from Joan of Arc to Malcolm X 
by Jeff Fleischer 
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Published by Zest Books; distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
224 pages
Ages 14+

Rockin’ the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries – from Joan of Arc to Malcolm X

We love to root for the underdog, and when it comes to underdogs, few are more impressive than the world’s great revolutionaries.

After all, it’s pretty hard to find a more powerful opponent than the world’s biggest empires and emperors. And that’s part of why we’re drawn to the stories of revolutionaries. Many of these men and women were born into virtual dystopias, and they fought throughout their lives, against all odds, to forge a path to a better future. And whether they succeeded, failed, or succeeded only to become a new kind of enemy, there’s something inherently fascinating about that effort to change the world.

Rockin’ the Boattells the stories of fifty such iconoclasts — including the gladiator Spartacus, the Carthaginian general Hannibal Barca, the inspired religious fighter Joan of Arc, the abolitionist John Brown, women’s rights icon Margaret Sanger, and Maori chief Hono Heke — from an incredibly diverse set of places and times. Each entry includes a mix of history, biography, and analysis, and is supplemented with photos, sidebars, and an incredible amount of trivia as well.

As a result, Rockin’ the Boat provides a unique and powerful view of history — a view from the bottom up, through the eyes of people who dared to imagine a different world from the one in which they lived.

Find Rockin’ the Boat: 50 Iconic Revolutionaries – from Joan of Arc to Malcolm X:


Jeff Fleischer is a Chicago-based journalist and author, who has written for Mother Jones, the Sydney Morning Herald, National Geographic Traveler, Mental Floss, and Chicago Magazine.


"A gallery of historical troublemakers starting with Hannibal and ending with Martin Luther King, Jr. …Snarky picture captions (‘Emma Goldman is not interested in your nonsense’) and sidebar references to pop culture further lighten the overall tone. … Salutary portraits in radicalism." – Kirkus Reviews

“A lively narrative, an accessible length (while the profiles are dense, they are kept to roughly four pages each), and deadpan humor—particularly in captions (George Washington is ‘tight in tights’ and Sitting Bull ‘sits bullishly’)—allow for irreverent, edifying reading." – Publishers Weekly

Thanks to Zest Books I am giving away a copy of Rockin' the Boat
  • To enter for a chance to win: Leave a comment about why you want to read Rockin' the Boat and a method to contact you (twitter handle, blog link, etc)
  • Must be 16 years or older to enter
  • Ends 3/31/15 11:59 est

Facebook profile: 
Zest Books website: and Blog Tour hub page:

ABOUT ZEST BOOKS: Zest Books is an award-winning publisher of smart and edgy nonfiction books and memoirs for young and new adults. Distributed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, you can learn more about Zest Books at

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Roanoke Author Invasion: Featured Authors and Giveaway (3)

Image Credit: Laura Howard

The Roanoke Author Invasion is coming to the Star City on April 11, 2015. Thirty authors of contemporary, romance, and paranormal fiction will be in attendance. I am thrilled to be attending this event held in Southwest Virginia. To get ready for the event, I am featuring the authors on my blog in the weeks leading up to the event through promotional posts and mini-interviews. I'm asking each author to share a little about themselves, books, and writing advice, and ending this month-long feature with a huge giveaway.

For more information about this FREE event, please visit Roanoke Author Invasion at or on Facebook at

Get your tickets now through EVENTBRITE.

Today I am featuring Michele G. Miller, Karen Lynch, Rysa Walker, Melissa Haag, and Rebecca Rynecki.

Michele G. Miller

What are some of the books that make you fall in love with reading?
I've always been a reader, but I had three influential stretches of reading in my lifetime:
1) In middle school there was a period where I devoured all of the VC Andrews (Flowers in the Attic) series. I would go to the flea market bookstore and buy them for 25¢. Then came harder English classes and I moved to reading for school instead of enjoyment. Lord of the Flies is one book I loved in high school
2) The around my early 20s my mother-in-law gave me a copy of Judith McNaughts 'Only You' I fell in love with it and historical romance and began snapping up all of her books. I also began reading Mary Higgins Clark thanks to my own mother. I'm stuck to those two authors for a good long time, reading everything they had. Then a baby came and work and life got in the way of reading again.
3) Like so many others, my love of voracious reading returned thanks to that little book 'Twilight'. You might have heard of it.   
After Twilight, I read the Hunger Games trilogy and we bought an iPad. That little iPad changed my reading life (I read with my Kindle now). E-books made it easier for me to read a few chapters in bed at night without bothering my sleeping husband. I love reading in peace so - with 3 kids - I rarely read during the day. I could snuggle up in bed and read all night happily and I've been doing that now for years.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
When I first sat down to write Author Nancy Straight told me to write 2k a day. 2k a day = 90k in 3 months. That sounded legit and doable, so I ran with it. It helps to break up your writing into small goals like that, especially when you're first starting out. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Something I keep in mind always is 'don't follow the trends, follow your heart' that is harder advice to follow when you see so many people raking in great sales because they are selling a particular type of book that's currently 'hot'. You have to know your voice and passion. Also, know that this industry is hard. Some people come out of the gates and make it big, some take years, and still others never see much in the way of an income (remember the majority of books sell 500 copies in their lifetime - there are millions of books out there). You might see no sales with book one and a ton with two or vice versa. Different books 'hit' for different reasons. Don't compare yourself, your sales or your success to others. Come up with YOUR own goals and chase them down! 

Tell me three things about yourself:
1) I'm a real life Disney princess ;) by that I mean I am constantly singing and dancing as I go about the house during the day. I'm the person who, if there were a hidden camera in my kitchen, you would see doing pirouettes on the wood floors while I wait for my lunch to cook. *I was an ice skater as a little girl and I have a dancing daughter - so I've got moves ;)
2) I'm a sports fanatic. I will happily watch pretty much all sports and love watching ESPN - when I have free time, of course, I've been really busy with books lately :(
3) I have a MASSIVE sweet tooth. Like really really massive. Jelly beans and Twizzlers are both approved writing snacks.

Find Michele on-line at

Karen Lynch 

What are some of the books that made you fall in love with reading?

I read so many books in my childhood that it’s hard to single out a couple. I’d have to say that the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder was one of my favorites and really drew me in every time. Another one I adored was To Nowhere and Back by Margaret Anderson. I think that is the one that made me start thinking about writing. I still have a copy of that book.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

I think the best piece of advice I’ve received is to write every day. Writing is a craft and like any craft it requires practice. The more you practice, the better you get.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

The advice I give to new writers is to read a lot in the genre you want to write, to write every day, and to write books that you would want to read. Don’t follow trends, Write what feels good to you.

Three things about me:

I am a romantic at heart. I love Jane Austin movies and I don’t like books or movies that do not have a happy ending. I read for the sheer enjoyment of it, not for some kind of personal enrichment. When an author kills of a main character for no good reason, they lose me as a reader. That’s not to say their books aren’t otherwise well written. They just aren’t for me.

I am a total softy when it comes to animals. I have two German Shepherds and three cats I rescued. Growing up, I brought home so many stray dogs and cats and injured birds that it drove my parents nuts.

I work full time as a computer programmer and I write on nights and weekends. My dream is to make writing a full time career and the sooner the better.

Find Karen online at 

Rysa Walker

What are some of the books that made you fall in love with reading?
I can't remember a time when I didn't love reading, so I suspect that the earliest culprits were some book from the Little Golden Library.  I've always been one of those people who is constantly reading--I'll read the cereal box, the toothpaste tube, or the shampoo bottle if there's nothing else around. The books that engage me the most, however, are speculative fiction--fantasy, science fiction, horror.  That's always been the case, even when I was a kid.  I loved The Wizard of Oz.  I started reading Stephen King in middle school and still have to plan a day off when he has a new release, because I know I won't get anything done until I finish it.  Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Mark Twain's snarkier stuff (like Letters from Earth), Robert Heinlein, Tolkien...I could go on for a very long time.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
Unless you live alone, get an office with a door that you can lock.  Runner up: turn off social media until the word count is finished.  (I'm not always as diligent on that last one as I should be.)  

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read.  And when you really enjoy a book, go back and reread it.  That's something that I don't do often enough in this era of easy access to new books--just click the button and you're on to the next story--but it's a very important thing for writers to do.  If the story pulled you in or you really identify with the characters, figure out why.  And then figure out how you can make those same tricks of the trade work for your characters and your plot.

Tell me 3 things about yourself.
  • Like most writers, I'm an introvert...until you get me in a group of other writers.  Or a group of readers who like the same things I do. Then all bets are off. 
  • I love chocolate, but not that sweet, milky stuff.  Make my chocolate darker than the soul of Satan, add a cup of coffee on the side, and I'm a happy camper.  (This quite possibly came to mind because that's what is on my desk right now. ;) )
  • My current work-in-progress (the final novella in my CHRONOS Files series) would already be complete if not for my unfortunate addiction to Bejeweled. Any time I get stuck on a plot point or one of the multiple timelines has me going crazy, I play a few speed rounds.  And unless I hit 350K early, I usually play a few more.  I recently paid twenty bucks for a program that limits the time I can play to fifteen minutes...but then I deleted it the very next day.  I think I need professional help.
Find Rysa online at

Melissa Haag

What are some of the books that made you fall in love with reading?
The first book that hooked me on romance was one of my mom’s indian “savage” books.  I was 13 and she didn't know I’d picked it up.  I closed myself in my room for hours.  When she finally thought to look in on my, I was over halfway through the book.  I can still remember her face.  HAHA!  She was so mad.  She took the book away and hid it in her room.  Yeah, I found it and finished it, and I've been reading romance since.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
To just keep writing.  Not every book is meant to be published or will be loved by readers if you do publish it.  But that doesn't mean you should stop writing.  Keep at it.  As in anything, practicing will hone your skills.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
There’s so much I could say!  Honestly, I would give the same advice given to me.  Just keep writing.

Tell me 3 things about yourself.
Ticks freak me out.
I hate spit!  (yes, it’s in my mouth…I try not to think about it)
I write best at night when everyone’s in bed.

Find Melissa online at

Rebecca Rynecki

What are some of the books that made you fall in love with reading?
Way too many to name, but there are a few that I come back to over and over again. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, and Enchanted by Orson Scott Card are the ones that I re-read quite a bit.

What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
It may seem like nothing big, but my 9th grade English teacher just told me to keep going. Small, but it meant a lot to me when I was uncertain. 

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
To have fun with it! Be as silly as you'd like! 

Three things about myself:
1. I love pina coladas. Dancing in the rain...kind of iffy. Unless it's warm.
2. I went to Hollins University for college. It was the best experience!
3. I cannot sing. That doesn't stop me from belting it out though. Even when my son asks me to stop. 

Now for the Giveaway
One person will receive a selection of Books, E-books and Swag collected from RAI
(some items are donated by the authors and some items will be purchased at RAI and from Amazon for this giveaway)
Must be 18 years or older to enter
U.S. Addresses only

Enter via Rafflecopter

Friday, March 20, 2015

Blog Tour: THIS HEART OF MINE by Brenda Novak - Review and Giveaway

The Heart of Mine
by Brenda Novak
Publication Date: MArch 31, 2015
Published by MIRA
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher

Purchase Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble

As the daughter of a hoarder, Phoenix Fuller had a tough childhood. So when the handsome, popular Riley Stinson became her boyfriend in high school, she finally felt as though she had something to be proud of. Phoenix was desperate not to lose him—especially once she found out she was pregnant. Yes, she might have acted a bit obsessive when he broke up with her. But she did not run down the girl he started dating next!

Unfortunately, there was no way to prove her innocence. Now, after serving her time in prison, Phoenix has been released. All she wants to do is return to Whiskey Creek and get to know her son. But Jacob's father isn't exactly welcoming.

Riley doesn't trust Phoenix, doesn't want her in Jacob's life. He is, however, ready to find someone to love. And he wants a good mother for his son. He has no idea that he's about to find both—if they can forgive the mistakes in their past…

My Thoughts

This Heart of Mine is the first book by Brenda Novak that I've read and it certainly will not be the last. The synopsis immediately caught my attention - oh the drama and the angst and a story about second chances, but I was concerned about starting this book since it is the 8th book of an existing series. I was worried that there would be too many characters and an existing story line that I wouldn't know what was going on and there would be plot holes left unanswered. All of this worrying was completely unnecessary, because This Heart of Mine can be read as a stand-alone.

I appreciated the list of characters at the beginning of the book which helped explain some of the connections between the characters - and there are a lot of them. I liked how they appeared throughout the book and I got just enough of their back story that I became interested in them and wanted to know their individual stories too. This is one of the main reasons I'll check out the backlist of this series. 

I loved reading about Phoenix and Riley and discovering everything that pulled them apart and experiencing everything that brought them back together. It was a slow road as they both worked to rebuild the trust that had been lost and overcome the devastation of the past. I'm all for second chance stories, and this was a great one. 

Some of my favorite parts were the interactions between Riley and his son, Jacob. Their relationship was more of a friendship than father and son evident in the way the communicated with each other - and there was an immense level of respect for each other. And I loved the interactions with Jacob and Phoenix just as much. I looked forward to reading those parts of the book.

There were moments when I found myself wishing that I knew more about Phoenix and Riley as teenagers. I got a lot of their history in This Heart of Mine and could imagine what they were like as teenagers, but I would love to read their story as 17 and 18 year olds and when they first met and got together. I would definitely read a YA book about them. Talk about some angst. Who knows, this may be in a Whiskey Creek book already. I'll just have to go back and read them to find out. 

I'm so glad that I've discovered a new-to-me author whose books I want to read. I'm looking forward to getting to know the rest of the people from Whiskey Creek. 

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from the publisher as part of a promotional blog tour hosted by CBB Book Promotions in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any way other than the ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Brenda NovakAbout the Author:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has penned over 45 novels. A two-time Rita nominee, she's won The National Reader's Choice, The Bookseller's Best, The Bookbuyer's Best and many other awards. She runs an annual online auction for diabetes research every May at To date, she’s raised over $2 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

Find Brenda Novak Online:


This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.



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