HERE SHE IS: The Complicated Reign of The Beauty Pageant in America by Hilary Levey Friedman – SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY

AND THE FIRST RUNNER UP IS – (screams) and a new Miss America is announced…. The other forty nine girls place a crown on the winner, she’s handed roses…. and makes her first walk down the center podium while wild cheers are heard from the audience. HERE SHE IS (BeaconPress) by Hilary Levey Friedman is a new book that reveals the relationship between beauty pageants and feminism.

Many predicted that pageants would disappear by the 21st century. Yet they are thriving. America’s most enduring contest, Miss America, celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020. Why do they persist? In Here She Is, Hilary Levey Friedman reveals the surprising ways pageants have been an empowering feminist tradition. She traces the role of pageants in many of the feminist movement’s signature achievements, including bringing women into the public sphere, helping them become leaders in business and politics, providing increased educational opportunities, and giving them a voice in the age of #MeToo.

Using her unique perspective as a NOW state president, daughter to Miss America 1970, sometimes pageant judge, and scholar, Friedman explores how pageants became so deeply embedded in American life from their origins as a P.T. Barnum spectacle at the birth of the suffrage movement, through Miss Universe’s bathing beauties to the talent- and achievement-based competitions of today. She looks at how pageantry has morphed into culture everywhere from The Bachelor and RuPaul’s Drag Race to cheer and specialized contests like those for children, Indigenous women, and contestants with disabilities. Friedman also acknowledges the damaging and unrealistic expectations pageants place on women in society and discusses the controversies, including Miss America’s ableist and racist history, Trump’s ownership of the Miss Universe Organization, and the death of child pageant-winner JonBenet Ramsey.

Presenting a more complex narrative than what’s been previously portrayed, Here She Is shows that as American women continue to evolve, so too will beauty pageants.
Hilary Levey Friedman, PhD, is the author of Here She Is: The Complicated Reign of the Beauty Pageant in AmericaandPlaying to Win: Raising Children in a Competitive Culture. She is part of the Department of Education at Brown University, where she teaches courses on topics like afterschool activities, sports, and qualitative methods. She is also a Fellow at the Taubman Center for American Politics and Society.
Prof. Levey Friedman is currently President of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization for Women (RI NOW). She is also a member of the Public Policy Committee of the United Way of Rhode Island and the Platform and Issues Committee of the Rhode Island Democratic Party. Additionally she volunteers as an active Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). She is a civic leader as well, having served as Chair of the East Greenwich Democratic Town Committee, as an Affordable Housing Commissioner in the town of East Greenwich, RI, and as a Board of Trustee at Temple Torat Yisrael.
Prof. Levey Friedman grew up in the suburbs of Detroit where she graduated from Marian High School. As an undergraduate at Harvard she discovered sociology, graduating magna cum laude with highest honors in 2002 and writing her honors thesis on child beauty pageants. She then earned an MPhil from the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences as a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge, where her dissertation was about fashion and national identity. Following her time in England Prof. Levey Friedman matriculated at Princeton University, from which she earned a PhD in Sociology in 2009 as both a Spencer Dissertation Fellow and as a Harold W. Dodds fellow. During graduate school her research focused on competitive after-school activities (chess, dance, Kumon enrichment classes, and soccer). Prof. Levey Friedman completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University quantitatively studying youth sports injuries, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The mother of a first grader and a third grader, she spends whatever spare time she has reading (anything and everything!) and watching a variety of (reality) television shows and documentaries. We have one copy of HERE SHE IS to giveaway. Just tell us your thoughts about beauty pageants. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck. GIVEAWAY: USA only, please.

THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS – SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY

Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn
  • Best-selling authors, Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn share three novellas in a collection featuring three Texas cowboys in THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS(Kensington). The Civil War is over, Christmas is coming and its time for three rugged cowboys to hang up their spurs and settle down.
  • FATHER GOOSE by Jodi Thomas. Dispirited by war, when Trapper Morgan accepts a job hauling five little rich girls to Dallas, all he cares about is the money. He doesn’t expect they’ll awaken his spirit – or that their intriguing nursemaid, Carolina, will awaken his heart. And when danger strikes as Christmas Eve nears, he definitely doesn’t expect Carolina and the girls to risk their lives – for him.
  • THE MISTELTOE PROMISE by Sharla Lovelace. A catastrophic storm, an ailing herd and a falling ranch have left Texas rancher Josie Bancroft in danger of losing everything her father worked for. Still, she’d rather die than merge with her neighbor rancher Benjamin Mason, the man who broke her heart years ago, on Christmas Eve. As old sparks fly and secrets are revealed, however, Ben is determined to help Josie – and prove this time around can be different. That the misunderstanding of Christmas past need not define their future.
  • CHRISTMAS ROAD by Scarlett Dunn. Yellow Fever has hit Clint Mitchum’s hometown and taken this father and siblings, leaving Clint ever more cynical. Racing homeward to be at his mother’s side, Clint finds a note from her, asking that he help her caregiver, a young woman named Amelia. Assuming his mother has passed, in his grief Clint ventures out to search for Amelia – and finds the best of gifts – just in time for Christmas.
  • We’re lucky to have one copy of THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS to giveaway. Just tell us your plans for the upcoming holidays. We’ll choose a winner soon. Good luck. GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

THE GREEN BEACH FILE by K.A. Perry – Review & Giveaway – CLOSED

Are you looking for a legal mystery to keep you engaged? K.A. Perry’s THE GREEN BEACH FILES (PermutedPress) might be just the read for you. It taps into love and nature while keeping you flipping pages to find out the ending. It’s definitely different from most mysteries I’ve read.

Two people have turned up dead in the small tourist beach town of Mayfield, Connecticut and it has everyone wondering whodunnit.
The town is split over a possible high end development that may be built and it’s pitting residents against one another.

Jenn is a town lawyer who discovers the first murder victim. She’s not looking to become involved in solving the murder, but it’s the way things work out. The mystery keeps sneaking into her regular work, so she’s distracted from day to day responsibilities. Her love and respect for the local nature, along with her entertaining and dysfunctional family, keep Jenn in the middle the fight over land preservation.

The pristine beach is between New York and Boston. Are these residents or developers extreme enough to commit murder? The mystery is complicated and interesting. I enjoyed reading THE GREEN BEACH FILE. It was a murder mystery without the normal gore and it was funny at times. I never knew there was so much to learn about fireflies!
  • Thanks to Kate Rocks Book Tours we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us your thoughts about preserving nature. I personally think its incredibly important to save nature and our planet for future generations. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by RaeAnne Thayne – Review & Giveaway – CLOSED

COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS by RaeAnne Thayne
  • Get ready for the 10th book in the 11 part series of RaeAnne Thayne’s, “Haven Point series (Harlequin).” Luke finds Elizabeth seven years after she left. And he hopes its going to be a much brighter Christmas, for him and their two kids this year.
  • Luke’s wife and the mother to his children Cassie and Bridger, left them seven years ago, without a word and since then, Luke has been under the suspicion of killing her. It’s made it tough for the three of them to live under the glare of rumors.
  • Luke finds out his wife is in Cannon Beach, Oregon and he leaves Haven Point, Idaho to bring her home and for her to tell the truth to the District Attorney who wants to lock him up. Once he arrives, he gives her an hour to pack for two nights. She tries to make small talk and he’s full of rage and ignores her for most of the eight hour trek in his truck. His temper is peaked and he kisses her out of anger. He tells her she can’t see the kids.
  • Once she’s sitting down with the DA and telling her story he realizes he’s made a mistake. She really had to leave and she’s suffered so much. He brings her home to meet the kids, her children, but 10-year old Cassie wants nothing to do with her. Christmas is just around the corner and he’s mad that he’s falling for her all over again and Elizabeth thinks he hates her. He invites her to stay longer and they start being seen together to squash rumors and celebrating the season.
  • I don’t want to tell you anymore, but I can tell you you’re going to need a lot of tissues to finish COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS. You’ll end up loving the Hamilton family. It’s the perfect book to read while sipping tea of hot chocolate. It’s about love, secrets, trust and gratitude.
  • We have one copy to give away. Just tell us how you plan to celebrate the holidays. We’ll pick a winner soon. Good luck. GIVEAWAY: US only, please.

CLAIMING THE RANCHER’S HEIR by Maisey Yates – Spotlight & Excerpt

An explosively hot, enemies-to-lovers romance from New York Times bestselling author Maisey Yates!Arrogant, infuriating, insufferable…

And the sexiest man she’s ever met.

Wren Maxfield hates Creed Cooper, but now she’s working with the wealthy rancher over the holidays! Those strong feelings hide undeniable chemistry…and one wild night results in pregnancy. Now Creed vows to claim his heir. That means proposing a marriage in name only. But as desire takes over, is that a deal they can keep?

From Harlequin Desire: Luxury, scandal, desire—welcome to the lives of the American elite.

Gold Valley Vineyards

HERE’S AN EXCERPT OF CLAIMING THE RANCHER’S HEIR:

Creed Cooper was a cowboy. A rich, successful cowboy from one of the most well-regarded families in
Logan County. He also happened to be tall, muscular and in possession of the kind of good looks a lot of
women liked.
As a result, nearly nothing—or no one—was off-limits to him.
No one except Wren Maxfield.
Maybe that was why every time he looked at her his hands itched.
To unwind that tight bun from her hair. To make that mouth, which was always flattened in
disapproval—at least around him—get soft and sexy and get all over his body.
And he had that itch a lot, considering he and Wren were the representatives for their respective
families’ vineyards. Rivals, in fact.
And she hated him.
She hated him so much that when she saw him her eyes flared with a particular kind of fire.
Fair enough, since he couldn’t really stand her either.
But somehow, years ago, a piece of that dislike inside him had twisted and caught hard in his gut and
turned into an intensity of another kind entirely.
He was obsessed.
Obsessed with the idea he might be able to use that fire in her eyes to burn up the sheets between
them.
Instead, he had to listen to her heels clicking on the floor as she paced around the showroom of
Cowboy Wines, looking like a smug cat, making him wait to hear whatever plan it was she’d come to tell
him about.
“Are you listening to me?” she asked suddenly, her green cat eyes getting sharp.
She was dressed in a tight-fitting red dress that fell to the top of her knees. It had a high, wide neck,
and while it didn’t show a lot of skin, it hugged her full breasts so tight it didn’t leave a lot to the
imagination.
Even if it had, his imagination was damn good. And it was willing to work for Wren. Overtime.
She had on those ridiculous spiked heels, too. Red, like the dress. He wanted to see her in only those
heels.
He wasn’t into prissy women. Not generally. He liked a more practical girl. A cowgirl who would be at
home on his ranch.
Wren looked like she never left her family showroom, all glass walls and wrought iron furniture.
Maxfield Vineyards was the premier wine brand for people who were up their own asses.
And still, he wanted her.
That might be her greatest sin.
That she tested control he’d had firmly leashed for the last eighteen years and made him want to
send it right to hell as he burned in her body.
Of all the reasons to hate Wren Maxfield, wanting her and not being able to do a damn thing to make
himself stop was number one on the list.
He looked around the Cowboy Wines showroom, the barrels with glass tabletops on them, the heavy,
distressed beams that ran the length of the room.
And then there was him: battered jeans and cowboy boots, a hat for good measure.
Everything a woman like Wren would hate.
A testament to just why there was no reason to carry a burning torch for her fine little body.
Too bad his own body was a dumbass.
“I wasn’t listening at all,” he said, making sure to drawl it. As slow as possible. He was rewarded with

a subtle flare of heat in those eyes. “Make it more interesting next time, Wren. Maybe do a dance.”
“The only dancing I’ll ever do is on your grave, Creed.”
The sparring sent a kick of lust through him. They did this every time they were in a room together.
Every damn time. No matter that he knew he shouldn’t indulge it.
But hell, he was afraid the alternative was stripping her naked and screwing her against the nearest
wall, and that wasn’t a real option.
So verbal sparring it was.
“What did I die of?” he asked. “Boredom?”
Those eyes shot sparks at him. “It was tragic. You were found with a high heel protruding out of your
chest.” Her magic lips curved upward and he felt it like she’d pressed them against his neck.
“Any suspects so far?”
“Your own smart mouth. Are you going to listen to me or not?”
“You’re already here. So am I. Might as well.”
He leaned back in his chair and, for effect, put his boots up on the table.
Her top lip curled up into a sneer, and that thrilled him just as much as if she’d crossed the room to
straddle his lap. Okay, maybe not just as much, but he loved that he got to her.

CLAIMING HIS BOLLYWOOD CINDERELLA by Tara Pammi

He’s a Bollywood superstar, she’s a personal assistant… And their one night proves that keeping things professional will be impossible in this passionate and uplifting Cinderella romance from Tara Pammi.

A brief encounter… A forbidden fairy tale!

The hottest actor in Bollywood, Vikram Raawal has found love countless times—when he’s playing a role. In real life, he’s given up on finding a soul-deep connection and prefers to focus entirely on his career. Until at a masquerade ball, one woman leaves him craving more…

Naina Menon’s first impression of drop-dead gorgeous Vikram left much to be desired. But then one heart-stopping night shows her there’s so much more to him than his celebrity persona. Still, he’s a billionaire, and she’s a humble assistant. Is passion enough to bridge their different worlds?

From Harlequin Presents: Escape to exotic locations where passion knows no bounds.

Here’s an excerpt from CLAIMING HIS BOLLYWOOD CINDERELLA:

Vikram Raawal walked up the steps of Raawal Mahal, his family’s two-hundred-year-old palatial ancestral bungalow. It was the only property his parents had left unsullied by their still-tempestuous marriage of forty years. 

The muggy October afternoon was redolent with the pungent aroma of the jasmine creeper that his grandfather had planted for his wife all those years ago. 

His grandparents had shared a love story that couldn’t be recreated by all the glittering sets and stars of Bollywood. If not for the fact that Vikram had very clear memories of them—Daadu and Daadi sitting side by side listening to ghazals on the gramophone, sharing stories with him and his younger brother and sister, Daadi keeping silent vigil by her husband’s side as he vanished away into nothing…he would have scoffed at even the idea of such a love. 

But he had seen it. He’d been a part of it. He’d found comfort and joy in its shadow. And today, at the age of thirty-six, memories of that love hit him hard. 

He was lonely, he admitted to himself, as he walked through the gated courtyard toward the main bungalow. The strains of an old ghazal played on the gramophone player, sinking sweetly into his veins, slowly releasing the pent-up tension he’d been carrying. He laughed at the mural his younger brother, Virat, had painted on one wall where a profusion of plants and flowerpots sat on an elevated concrete bench. 

The cozy bungalow, full of sweet memories and peaceful childhood associations, was his favorite place in the world. And yet, he had avoided visiting for almost two months, using out-of-country shoots and overloaded scheduling as excuses. 

But here in this place where he was just Vikram and not Vikram Raawal, Bollywood star, and the chairman of the family production company Raawal House of Cinema, he couldn’t lie to himself. 

He hadn’t wanted to expose himself to his daadi’s brand of perceptiveness. He hadn’t wanted her to see how unhappy he’d been of late. How…unsettled in his own skin. 

The raucous burst of a man’s laughter punctured his thoughts. It was Virat. 

For a few seconds, Vikram considered turning around and walking out. His recent argument with his brother had been far dirtier than their usual headbutting over projects for Raawal House. Being called arrogant and dominating by a brother that he loved and respected had…shaken him.

The laughter came again and Vikram’s curiosity trumped his reluctance. He walked through the grand salon, filled with his grandfather’s trophies and accolades from a career that had lasted close to five decades in Bollywood.

Vijay Raawal had not only been a celebrated actor and director but had built his career from the ground up after traveling the country with a theater group for years. Started his own production company, and taken the industry in a new direction. Made mainstream films, art projects, and careers of many stars and never once lost his integrity.

How had his grandfather sustained such a glittering career in such a superficial and cutthroat industry? Had it been simply the unconditional support Daadi had offered him through everything?

After fifteen years and numerous box office hits in Bollywood, Vikram had suddenly found himself filled with a strange feeling of discontent all of a sudden. But it was more than creative burnout. In a cinematic twist, he’d found himself wanting the same kind of support and affection from someone that Daadi had given Daadu while knowing that he wasn’t actually capable of returning it.

In a crazy moment of impulse, he’d asked his best friend Zara to marry him. Thankfully, Zara had instantly said no. That he had even considered marriage in the first place—even if it was to his oldest and longest friend, showed how unlike himself he was currently feeling.

He nodded at Ramu Kaka—his grandfather’s old manservant, as old and comfortingly familiar as the bungalow itself.

The first thing that hit him as he entered the expansive sitting room was the subtle scent of roses. Every inch of him stilled as he stood over the threshold, his long form hidden from his daadi and Virat by the L-shaped angle of the hall. They were lounging on the divan, while a number of their servants stood huddled by the other door that led to the huge kitchen. Every mouth twitched in varying degrees of smiles.

In the middle of the room, kneeling on the rug, was a young woman with her face in profile to Vikram. Evening sunlight filtered through the high windows in the room and lit up her silhouette. The first thing he noted was the dark halo of her hair, curly and thick like her very own crown, that swung from side to side every time she moved her head, and huge glittering earrings that reminded him of the crystal chandelier Mama had spent thousands of dollars on in some Italian boutique.

The earrings swayed enchantingly every time the young woman moved her head. And she did it a lot. His mouth curved.

Wide eyes, pert nose and a lush mouth moved in constant animation, along with her plump body. Almost anesthetized by seeing size zero bodies on movie sets, he let his gaze return to the voluptuous lines of her body with a curious fascination. A white cotton kurta hugged her breasts, a long chain of glittery beads dancing over them. 

White stones on tiny half-moon gold hoops glinted in a perfect line over the shell of her left ear, winking mischievously in the waning sunlight. With her multihued skirt spread out around her in a kaleidoscope of colors, she was a gorgeous burst of color against a gray landscape. 

Full of life and verve and authenticity he hadn’t seen in a long time. 

A thrilling sliver of excitement bloomed in his gut even as he frowned at the oversized stuffed teddy bear on the floor in front of her. Suddenly, the woman opened her mouth and screamed. 

The cry was deep rather than shrill, perfectly modulated, and eerily familiar. 

Vikram watched in increasing fascination as she extended her arms and bent to scoop up the stuffed toy from the ground into her arms. The gold and silver-colored bracelets she wore on one wrist tinkled at the moment, adding their own background score to the entire scene. 

And then it came to him. 

She was enacting a scene. From a recent movie. His latest action thriller. 

She was…mocking him? 

She was imitating the cheesiest line he’d ever said in front of a camera and she was doing a fantastic job of pinpointing everything he’d hated about the movie and in particular, that scene.

A SHERIFF’S STAR by Makenna Lee SPOTLIGHT & EXCERPT

It was only supposed to be a temporary home…

He interrupts her plans…When police chief Anson Curry returns a lost little girl to her frantic mother, his only goal is to ease the single mom’s anxiety. But it doesn’t take long for Tess Harper’s amazing child to have Anson wrapped around her little finger—and for Tess to have him thinking about a possible relationship. As for Tess, she’s tempted—even though she had planned to be in Oak Hollow, Texas, only temporarily. But after losing her father and brother in the line of duty, Tess thinks Anson’s job poses too much of a risk to her heart. And Anson has no plans to get involved with someone who’s planning on leaving.

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

We have an excerpt of A SHERIFF’S STAR:

Where’s my baby?

Tess Harper’s rib cage rattled with the abrupt drumming of her heart. “Hannah Lynn! Where are you? Answer Momma!”

This can’t be happening! I only glanced away for a second.

Blood pounded in her head with such force her vision wavered, and a hot, prickly knot wedged in her throat. She grabbed a rack of clothes, knocked items to the floor and forced herself to focus. No one had been standing near them to snatch her little girl. Her precocious child must’ve slipped into one of the stuffed, round racks to play her favorite game of hide-and-seek.

Please, please let her be okay. “Hannah Lynn, answer me!”

A store employee stood nearby folding T-shirts, unaffected by Tess’s cries.

“My daughter is missing! Can you make an an­nouncement?”

“What does she look like?” asked the blank-faced teen.

“She’s four, blonde, has Down syndrome.”

“Over here, ma’am,” a deep, male voice called from across the women’s department. “I think I have who you’re looking for.”

Tess spun to see her daughter in the arms of a tall police officer. She ran, dodging obstacles and other shoppers, and pulled Hannah into her arms. The slight weight of her child was an immediate re­lief. She cradled her head of silky curls and kissed her smooth, broad forehead. “Don’t you ever run off like that again. You scared the life out of me.”

Hannah’s bottom lip poked out and she placed both hands on her mother’s cheeks. “I sorry, Momma.”

The waning adrenaline rush left her trembling and dizzy. A strong arm wrapped around her shoulders and she stiffened. “I’m fine.”

“Let’s find a place to sit.”

Allowing a strange man to touch her wasn’t typi­cal behavior, but he was a police officer like her fa­ther had been, and at the moment, she welcomed the support. “I could sit for a minute.”

He guided them to a bench near the dressing room and sat beside them. “Can I get you anything? Water?”

Tess shook her head, too intent on hugging her squirming daughter and savoring her baby sham­poo scent. “I can’t believe I let this happen. I only turned my head, and when I looked back, she was gone. What if…” Her throat tightened and burned with repressed tears, cutting off her words. Terrible scenarios scrolled through her mind, each one more horrifying than the next.

“Play hide-see, Momma.”

“Sweet girl, you have to promise to tell me before we start playing hide-and-seek.”

“Something like this happens to every parent at some point,” said the officer. “Don’t be too hard on yourself.”

She cut him a hard look, ready to argue that her slipup was completely unacceptable. “Are you a par­ent?”

His jaw tightened and twitched. “No.”

“Then you don’t know what this feels like.” Tess didn’t miss the spark of sorrow in the man’s blue eyes. His expression almost matched the strained one that often stared back from her reflection. She took a deep breath. “Thank you, though. Where did you find my daughter?”

“She found me. I was looking through the ladies’ robes when a little hand reached out and tugged on my pant leg.”

“Ladies’ robes?” She bit her lip. It was none of her business what he shopped for.

Color bloomed high on his cheekbones. “For my grandmother.”

Hannah wiggled off her mother’s lap and onto the bench between them. “Sheriff safe?” Her blue-green eyes cut back and forth between them.

“Yes, baby.” Tess glanced at his badge that read Chief of Police. “She thinks you’re a sheriff like one of her favorite cartoon characters.”

He smiled at Hannah, showing dimples almost hidden beneath a short-cropped, blond beard. “You sure are a smart little girl. How old are you?”

“I four.” Hannah climbed onto her knees and traced around the border of his badge. “Circle.” Her tiny finger poked through each of the holes surround­ing the center star. “Sheriff star.”

“It means I’ve promised to protect and keep you safe.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a small plastic star and pinned it onto Hannah’s pink shirt. “You can be my honorary officer.”

Her daughter—normally shy around men—flung her arms around his neck. “Tank you.”

Tess once again caught a quick flash of distress before he schooled his features and returned the hug. Watching her child interact with a “father figure” set off a familiar swell of sadness that rolled in like a tidal wave. Hannah’s father didn’t want to be part of their lives, but he was the one missing out on the unconditional love of a precious child.

His loss. Idiot, selfish bastard.

She shook off the dark thoughts and took a good look at the man wearing a tan cowboy hat. His movie-star-worthy face topped powerful shoulders and a chest that filled his uniform shirt almost to the point of bursting buttons.

What’s the matter with me? How can I notice a man’s appearance at a time like this?

Eyes squeezed closed, she turned her head to hide her emotions from a man who was way too attrac­tive, and no doubt knew it. He probably had women fawning all over him. She did not need another man who’d play with her heart like a chew toy. Especially one with a dangerous job.

I can, and will, raise my child on my own.

Oak Hollow, Texas, might be a small town, but she made up her mind to keep as much distance as possible between her and this tempting officer. It wouldn’t be that hard. They’d only be here a couple of months before moving on to Houston to prepare for Hannah’s heart surgery.

Hannah plopped onto her bottom, little legs swinging as she admired her prize.

“Thank you for your help. I need to find our shop­ping cart and get groceries. I’m moving into our new place today and I don’t want to be late meeting the landlord.”

He cocked his head and studied her with a set of stormy blue eyes. “Is your new place by any chance the Craftsman bungalow on Eighteenth Street?”

Hair lifted on the back of her neck. “How’d you know?”

He stuck out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Tess Harper. I’m your landlord, Anson Curry.”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Happy upcoming Holidays!

THE FORGOTTEN SISTER by NICOLA CORNICK – Spotlight and Excerpt

In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes, THE FORGOTTEN SISTER by Nicola Cornick. It’s a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.
In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.
HERE’S AN EXCERPT of THE FORGOTTEN SISTER by Nicola Cornick

PROLOGUE 
Amy Robsart, Cumnor Village 
They came for me one night in the winter of 1752 when the ice was on the pond and the trees bowed under the weight of the hoar frost. There were nine priests out of Oxford, garbed all in white with tapers in hand. Some looked fearful, others burned with a righteous fervour because they thought they were doing the Lord’s work. All of them looked cold, huddled within their cassocks, the one out ahead gripping the golden crucifix as though it were all that stood between him and the devil himself. 
The villagers came out to watch for a while, standing around in uneasy groups, their breath like smoke on the night air, then the lure of the warm alehouse called them back and they went eagerly, talking of uneasy ghosts and the folly of the holy men in thinking they could trap my spirit. 
The hunt was long. I ran through the lost passageways of Cumnor Hall with the priests snapping at my heels and in the end, exhausted and vanquished, my ghost sank into the dark pool. They said their prayers over me and returned to their cloisters and believed the haunting to be at an end. 
Yet an unquiet ghost is not so easily laid to rest. They had trapped my wandering spirit but I was not at peace. When the truth is concealed the pattern will repeat. The first victim was Amyas Latimer, the poor boy who fell to his death from the tower of the church where my body was buried. Then there was the little serving girl, Amethyst Green, who tumbled from the roof of Oakhangar Hall. Soon there will be another. If no one prevents it, I know there will be a fourth death and a fifth, and on into an endless future, the same pattern, yet different each time, a shifting magic lantern projecting the horror of that day centuries ago. 
There is only one hope. 
I sense her presence beside me through the dark. Each time it happens she is there too, in a different guise, like me. She is my nemesis, the arch-enemy. Yet she is the only one who can free me and break this curse. In the end it all depends on her and in freeing my spirit I sense she will also free her own. 
Elizabeth. 
I met her only a handful of times in my life. She was little but she was fierce, always, fierce enough to survive against the odds, a fighter, clever, ruthless, destined always to be alone. We could never have been friends yet we are locked together in this endless dance through time.
 I possessed the one thing she wanted and could not have and in my dying I denied it to her forever. For a little while I thought that would be enough to satisfy me. Yet revenge sours and diminishes through the years. All I wish now is to be released from my pain and to ensure this can never happen again. 
Elizabeth, my enemy, you are the only one who can help me now but to do that you must change, you must see that the truth needs to be told. Open your eyes. Find the light.
Excerpted from The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick Copyright © Nicola Cornick. Published by Graydon House Books.

HOLDING OUT for CHRISTMAS by Janet Dailey – SPOTLIGHT & Giveaway – CLOSED

Welcome to the Christmas Tree Ranch and the third part of Janet Dailey’s Christmas Tree series: HOLDING OUT for CHRISTMAS (ZebraContemporary). FYI: You can read this as a stand alone, like I did. It’s the perfect book for you to welcome in the holiday season.
 
She’s all he wants for Christmas.  Maybe even forever…
 
Conner Branch is a hunk all readers will fall for. He’s delicious. He hasn’t stopping thinking about the sultry singer, Lacy Leatherwood he spotted on stage during last year’s Cowboy Christmas ball in Branding Iron, Texas. So imagine his surprise when he discovers the petite and sweet woman he rescued out of a snow ditch, whose coming home for the holidays to Branding Iron is the very same woman. Talk about coincidences. And once he’s up close and personal with the mesmerizing Megan, he’s determined to keep her by his side for good…
 
If only Conner Branch were simply the star struck cowboy she once believed him to be, Megan wouldn’t have to worry about losing everything to the rugged—and wildly romantic—rancher. With Christmas in the air, it’s a little too easy to imagine spending the holidays, not to mention her whole life, wrapped in Conner’s big loving arms.  But this country songstress has hopes for a big career back in Nashville. And no little holiday romance will ever get in the way of that. So what’s a woman to do when she finds herself facing down a love as big and bold as Texas itself?

This is a wonderful novel to read to get into the holiday spirit. I loved all the characters, especially Megan’s brother, Daniel who has Down’s Syndrome. We all can learn from his positive and cheerful outlook on life. Grab some hot chocolate and settle in a comfy chair. I also think the cover for HOLDING OUT for CHRISTMAS is delightful. Don’t you just want to take one of these puppies home?
Janet Dailey has written more than 100 novels and has become one of the top-selling authors in the world. We have one copy of HOLDING OUT for CHRISTMAS to giveaway. Just tell us your holiday plans. We’ll choose a winner soon. Good luck! GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

THE HAUNTING of BRYNN WILDER – Spotlight & Giveaway CLOSED

SPOOK ALERT! PERFECT BOOK FOR HALLOWEEN!

From the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of Daughters of the Lake comes an enthralling spellbinder of love, death, and a woman on the edge by author, Wendy Webb.

After a devastating loss, Brynn Wilder escapes to Wharton, a tourist town on Lake Superior, to reset. Checking into a quaint boardinghouse for the summer, she hopes to put her life into perspective. In her fellow lodgers, she finds a friendly company of strangers: the frail Alice, cared for by a married couple with a heartbreaking story of their own; LuAnn, the eccentric and lovable owner of the inn; and Dominic, an unsettlingly handsome man inked from head to toe in mesmerizing tattoos.

But in this inviting refuge, where a century of souls has passed, a mystery begins to swirl. Alice knows things about Brynn, about all of them, that she shouldn’t. Bad dreams and night whispers lure Brynn to a shuttered room at the end of the hall, a room still heavy with a recent death. And now she’s become irresistibly drawn to Dominic—even in the shadow of rumors that wherever he goes, suspicious death follows.

In this chilling season of love, transformation, and fear, something is calling for Brynn. To settle her past, she may have no choice but to follow her instincts. Happy Halloween!

Two books set Wendy on the path of her life—Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. Through those two books, she realized her love of storytelling, and knew, by the time she was about 11 years old, that she wanted to be a novelist someday.

Wendy was born and raised in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, where she majored in political science and minored in French and history. After college, she spent some time living in France with two lifelong friends, and when she returned to the States, she was fortunate enough to get an internship with a congressman in Washington, D.C., and later a job with a Minnesota senator.

When she moved back to Minnesota, Wendy got her first writing job with City Pages, an arts and entertainment weekly in Minneapolis. She has been a journalist ever since, writing for national and local magazines and newspapers, including Duluth Superior Magazine, where she was editor-in-chief for almost eight years.

Even though she loved her career as a journalist, she never forgot her dream of being a novelist. Finding the time to write a novel—that was the hard part. What with making a living and taking care of a young son, she just couldn’t find the luxury of spending time devoted to a dream. But finally, when her son Ben was in school and she was working from home as a freelance journalist, she realized she actually had the time to start writing her first novel. And she never looked back.

Wendy lived in Duluth, MN for 16 years with her family and three beloved Malamutes. Now she’s back in her home town of Minneapolis, where she is currently at work on her next novel and looking for a new dog. We have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us your plans for Halloween. We’ll chose a winner soon. Good luck. GIVEAWAY: USA only please.