Review: Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan

Note: I was provided with an advance reader copy by the author. It was my decision to review the novel and receiving a copy in no way influenced my opinion of the novel or this review. 

I am a sucker for a second-chance-at-love story. It’s one of my favourite tropes. Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan definitely fits the bill.

Early on, the reader gets to see how Kimba and Ezra first meet and become best friends as children. Their friendship and their loyalty to one another is intense and a precursor to love. Life separates them as pre-teens, and it’s many years later when they’re reunited. From there, we’re pulled into a very intense and gratifying love story.  

What I loved about Queen Move: Kennedy is a master at creating credible and three-dimensional characters who are so strong, so well-drawn that they seem to have lives of their own. They live, they breathe and you believe in them completely. Whether it’s her protagonists, Kimba and Ezra, or her secondary characters, you believe in them. I also love how she weaves in history in this story — for those of us who were children during the time of Atlanta child murders, we remember the fear and how it left a pall over a part of our childhood. Kennedy weaves this into the beginning of the story, reminding us of how fearful and watchful black parents especially were even in the days following the arrest of Wayne Williams. 

But what I appreciate most is that Queen Move is a very realistic love story. Like real life, Kimba and Ezra’s story is not always smooth sailing. It’s messy, full of twists and turns. It’s two adults dealing with everything that life and love throws at them. 

My rating? 5 stars.


Highly recommended.

First Look: Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan

QUEEN MOVE BY KENNEDY RYAN

“Combining sweet nostalgia with the important issues Kennedy never shies away from, Queen Move is nothing less than wonderful. I couldn’t put it down and never wanted it to end!” 

— Alexa Martin, Author of Intercepted

Queen Move, an all-new powerful second chance standalone from Wall Street Journal bestselling and RITA® Award-winning author Kennedy Ryan, is coming May 26th and we have your FIRST LOOK!  

Make sure to enter on Kennedy’s site to win a QUEEN BOX, stuffed with a signed paperback and all the things you’ll need to treat yourself like a queen!

Prologue

Kimba

Two Years Before Present

Is there anything sadder than a daddy’s girl at her father’s funeral?

My mother’s quiet sniffs a few seats down give me the answer.

A grieving widow.

“He was a good man,” someone in the long line of mourners offering condolences whispers to her.

Mama’s head bobs with a tearful nod. In this day and age, she still wears a pillbox hat and veil. It’s black and chic like Mama, channeling tragic Jackie Kennedy or Coretta Scott King. My father was not just a good man. He was a great man, and everyone should know he leaves behind a widow, grieving deeply, but ever-fly. I squeeze the funeral program between my fingers, glaring at the printed words.

Joseph Allen leaves behind a wife, Janetta, three children, Kayla, Keith and Kimba, and six grandchildren.

He leaves behind.

Daddy’s gone, and I don’t know how to live in a world my father does not inhabit. The casket is draped with sweet-smelling flowers in the center of the funeral tent. When we leave the cemetery, it…he will be lowered into the ground with unfathomable finality, separated from us by white satin lining, six feet of dirt and eternity.

Kayla, my older sister, sobs softly at the end of our family’s row. Her four children watch her carefully, probably unused to seeing their unshakeable mother shaken and reduced to tears. Even I’d forgotten how she looks when she cries—like she’s mad at the wetness streaking her cheeks, resentful of any sign of weakness.

It’s not weak to cry, Daddy used to say. It’s human.

“But doesn’t the Bible say even the rocks will cry out?” I’d challenged him when I was young, loving that something from Sunday school took. “So maybe tears aren’t just for humans.”

“You’re getting too smart for your britches, little girl,” he’d said, but the deep affection in his eyes when he kissed me told me he was pleased. He liked that I asked questions and taught me to never accept bullshit at face value.

I miss you, Daddy.

Not even a week since his heart attack, and I already miss him so much.

Humanity blurs my vision, wet and hot and stinging my eyes. I want this to be over. The flowers, the well-dressed mourners, the news cameras stationed at a distance they probably deem respectful. I just want to go to the house where my parents raised us, retreat to Daddy’s study and find the stash of cigars that only he and I knew about.

Don’t tell your mother, he used to whisper conspiratorially. This will be our little secret.

Mama hated the smell of cigars in the house.

“Tru.”

Who would call me by that name? Now, when the only people who use it, my family, are all preoccupied with their own pain? A tall man stands in front of me, his thick, dark brows bunched with sympathy. I don’t know him. I would remember a man like this, who stands strong like an oak tree. A well-tailored suit molds his powerful shoulders. Dark brown, not quite black, hair is cut ruthlessly short, but hints at waves if given the chance to grow. His prominent nose makes itself known above the full, finely sculpted lips below. His eyes are shockingly vivid—so deep a blue they’re almost the color of African violets against skin like bronze bathed in sunlight. No, a man like him you’d never forget. Something niggles at my memory, tugs at my senses. I’d never forget a man who looked like this, a man with eyes like that…but what about a boy?

“Ezra?” I croak, disbelief and uncertainty mingling in the name I haven’t uttered in years.

It can’t be.

But it is.

Keep Going!

Read the REST of the prologue and enter the QUEEN BOX giveaway on Kennedy’s website:→ kennedyryanwrites.com/queen-move-prologue

**QUEEN MOVE will have the special pre-order and release week price of $3.99. After that, the price will increase.**

 

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SYNOPSIS 

The boy who always felt like mine is now the man I can’t have…

Dig a little and you’ll find photos of me in the bathtub with Ezra Stern.

Get your mind out of the gutter. We were six months old.

Pry and one of us might confess we saved our first kiss for each other. 

The most clumsy, wet, sloppy . . . spectacular thirty seconds of my adolescence.

Get into our business and you’ll see two families, closer than blood, torn apart in an instant.

Twenty years later, my “awkward duckling” best friend from childhood, 

the boy no one noticed, is a man no one can ignore.

Finer. Fiercer. Smarter. 

Taken.

Tell me it’s wrong. 

Tell me the boy who always felt like mine is now the man I can’t have. 

When we find each other again, everything stands in our way–secrets, lies, promises.

But we didn’t come this far to give up now. 

And I know just the move to make if I want to make him mine.

ABOUT KENNEDY RYAN

A RITA® Award Winner, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling Author, Kennedy Ryan writes for women from all walks of life, empowering them and placing them firmly at the center of each story and in charge of their own destinies. Her heroes respect, cherish and lose their minds for the women who capture their hearts.

Kennedy and her writings have been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Glamour and many others. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but has a special passion for raising Autism awareness.The co-founder of LIFT 4 Autism, an annual charitable book auction, she has appeared on Headline News, The Montel Williams Show, NPR and other media outlets as an advocate for ASD families. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son.

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Review: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun AgeSuch a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s not often that I get to read a novel set in my hometown of Philadelphia, so I was pretty excited to read Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age.

So what’s the premise? Emira is a young African-American woman who, at the age of 25, doesn’t really know what she wants to do with her life. She’s graduated from Temple University with a so-so GPA, and she’s babysitting for the Chamberlains, who’ve recently moved to downtown Philadelphia from New York. All of her friends are getting “real” jobs or have them already and Emira is feeling like a failure compared to them. Alix Chamberlain, her boss, is a successful blogger/influencer with a publishing deal, a husband who’s a news anchor on a local TV channel, and two picture-perfect daughters–even if Briar, the oldest, tries her nerves. Two unexpected events lead to both women examining their identities, race, friendship, love, and trust.

As much as I enjoyed reading the story, I felt like the alternating points of view were a bit unbalanced. I wanted more of Emira’s side of the story. Too often, it felt like Alix’s actions and worries were more in focus. Emira sometimes felt like an enigma whereas Alix was an open book.

Still, I really enjoyed reading Such a Fun Age and I am looking forward to reading Kiley Reid’s next novel.

View all my reviews

Review: In Black & White by Nia Forrester

Nia Forrester never fails to create realistic portrayals of love that I always find so beautifully written. She never disappoints. And this is definitely true in her latest, In Black & White

Set in a leafy suburb of Philadelphia, we’re immediate dropped into what is every parent’s nightmare–the disappearance of a child. In this case, it’s the disappearance of 18-month-old Samara, the daughter of interracial couple Noah and Dana. Samara’s abduction and the subsequent fallout around it mark the beginning of a fascinating story that is in parts mystery and a thoroughly modern story of a love on the rocks. 

Forrester is a master at crafting three-dimensional characters. Dana and Noah are no different. From the first chapter when we learn the status of their marriage, we are given a very realistic, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes frustrating portrayal of a couple who come from different worlds. Noah is the product of privileged, old Pennsylvania money. Dana is his polar opposite–raised in a working-class neighbourhood in Baltimore by her grandmother and her older sister, she has struggled to get used to the life of privilege being Noah’s wife affords, especially since her skin color will always mark her as out of place in the world that Noah comes from. One of the aspects I loved about In Black & White is how Forrester deftly takes us through the couple’s history and its relevance to their separation. These snippets of their shared past help the reader understand who Dana and Noah were when they first met and what attracted them to one another as well as what has driven them apart. 

This is not a sugar-coated, fantasy-laden love story, so if that’s what you’re looking for, then this isn’t going to be the book for you. But if you’re in the mood for a very realistic look at a modern love and marriage, racial and socioeconomic differences (and how it can make or break a couple), and how the disappearance of a child can unveil secrets, then you’re going to love In Black & White.

Highly recommended! 5 stars.

REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

REDESIGNING HAPPINESS BY NITA BROOKS

Real life is a work in progress… #DesignYourLife

It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer—and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fiancé, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on—and off—camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . . 

But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son—though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is—and discover what she truly wants.

AVAILABLE ON:

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Nita Brooks is giving away a signed copy of Redesigning Happiness & a $10 Amazon gift card to a lucky winner!

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ABOUT NITA BROOKS

A reading addict, self-professed connoisseur of home improvement shows, and a collector of teapots, Nita Brooks resides in South Carolina with her family. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at @AuthorNitaB.

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Feed your Kindle for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is soon here and you know what that means: a houseful of wonderful but noisy relatives, overindulging on delicious and maybe just a tad bit too rich food, drunk uncles (and maybe aunts too), and the inevitable food coma. It’s also when–if you’re an extroverted introvert like me–you need to retreat for just a little while with a good book.

And since Thanksgiving (at least for me) marks the beginning of the holiday season, it’s also time to feed my Kindle with lots of holiday fiction and romance. I’ve already started scoping out a few. 

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Imagine being put under quarantine with your family for seven days…how claustrophobic would you become after a few days? That’s the premise of Francesca Hornak’s Seven Days of Us

And the blurb? 

It’s Christmas, and the Birch family is gathering for the first time in years.

Olivia, the eldest daughter, has returned from treating an epidemic abroad and must go into quarantine for seven days. Her mother has decided it’s the perfect opportunity to spend some ‘special time’ together. Her youngest sister wholeheartedly disagrees. Her father isn’t allowed an opinion. 

When no one can leave the house, seven days for the Birches feels like an eternity. 

Especially when they’re all harbouring secrets. One of whom is about to come knocking at their door…

Sounds like fun, right? I picked this one up in paperback at Pocketshop here in Stockholm. I’m going to start reading it at the weekend, so there will be a review soon. 🙂

Winter Nights by Penny Reid et al

Want a box set to fill your Kindle for the holidays? Grab a copy of Winter Nights featuring stories by Penny Reid, Tijan, Elle Kennedy, Shayla Black, J. Kenner, Katy Regnery, Kate Canterbary, Charlotte Byrd, Lena Hart and Skye Warren. 

So what’s the scoop? 

HEAT UP YOUR NIGHTS!

Ten steamy books from bestselling authors fill this limited-time winter boxed set! If you love alpha heroes and sexy romance, this one’s for you…

Author’s Note: WINTER NIGHTS is a brand new boxed set for the season as a gift to our readers and to introduce you to new series to love!

TEN BOOKS INCLUDE:
Carter Reed by Tijan
Elements of Chemistry by Penny Reid
Wicked Grind by J. Kenner
Feeling Hot by Elle Kennedy
More Than Want You by Shayla Black
Survival of the Richest by Skye Warren
The Space Between by Kate Canterbary
Her Seductive Dare by Lena Hart
Black Edge by Charlotte Byrd
Bidding on Brooks by Katy Regnery 

12 Nights of Christmas: a holiday anthology by Kate Allenton et al

Another holiday anthology to keep you busy and this one features a story by me. Plus we’re raising money for Feeding America

Twelve bestselling and award-winning authors each bring you a sexy night of romance, fun and a little magic. ‘Tis the season for falling for the right guy!

Two people stuck in an elevator, snowed in, on an all-night bus trip, locked in a store… Can a magical fruitcake be the special ingredient they’re all looking for?

**‘Tis the season for giving, too!**
20% of the proceeds will be donated to the hunger relief organization Feeding America

December 25: “Scrooge You” by MK Schiller

December 26: “Unexpected Daddy” by Gemma Brocato

December 27: “The Meant to Be Girl” by Tawdra Kandle

December 28: “For One Night Only” by Carrie Elks

December 29: “Best Friends for a Night” by Alice Gaines

December 30: “Entwined” by Kristi Rose

December 31: “Rekindled” by Stacy Finz

January 1: “New Year’s Negotiation” by Kate Allenton

January 2: “Playing House” by Kim Golden

January 3: “Book of Love” by Cd Brennan

January 4: “A Winter Wonderland” by Rebecca Hunter

January 5: “Wild Honey” by Sarah Hegger


Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh

You know I am a sucker for Regency romance, so I’ve already 1-clicked Someone to Trust.

What’s it about? 

During a rare white Christmas at Brambledean Court, the widow Elizabeth, Lady Overfield, defies convention by falling in love with a younger man in the latest novel in the Westcott series.

After her husband’s passing, Elizabeth Overfield decides that she must enter into another suitable marriage. That, however, is the last thing on her mind when she meets Colin Handrich, Lord Hodges, at the Westcott Christmas house party. She simply enjoys his company as they listen to carolers on Christmas Eve, walk home from church together on Christmas morning, and engage in a spirited snowball fight in the afternoon. Both are surprised when their sled topples them into a snowbank and they end up sharing an unexpected kiss. They know there is no question of any relationship between them, for she is nine years older than he.

They return to London the following Season, both committed to finding other, more suitable matches. Still they agree to share one waltz at each ball they attend. This innocuous agreement proves to be one that will topple their worlds, as each dance steadily ensnares them in a romance that forces the two to question what they are willing to sacrifice for love. . . .

That’s it for today, but I have the feeling I will be back soon with more holiday book suggestions. 🙂 What book will you sneak away to read during Thanksgiving? 

Review: Perception by Terri Fleming

Screen Shot 2018-05-10 at 14.28.45Title: Perception

Author: Terri Fleming

Publication Date: July 13, 2017

Synopsis:

Mary Bennet does not dream of marriage. Much to her mother’s horror, Mary is determined not to follow in the footsteps of her elder sisters, Jane (now Mrs Bingley) and Lizzy (now Mrs Darcy). Living at home with her remaining sister, Kitty, and her parents, Mary does not care for fashions or flattery. Her hopes are simple – a roof over her head, music at the piano, a book in her hand and the freedom not to marry the first bachelor her mother can snare for her.

But Mrs Bennet is not accustomed to listening to her daughters.

While Kitty is presented with tempting choices and left trying to resist old habits, May discovers that things are not always what they seem and that happiness has a price. But by the time she realises that her perceptions might be false, could she have missed her chance at a future she’d never imagined?

REVIEW

As much as I love Jane Austen’s novels, I tend to avoid the stream of sequels to them written by contemporary authors. Initially, I fall under their spell and read them, but more often than not they don’t really leave me feeling satisfied. Imagine my happiness now that I’ve finally read a Jane Austen sequel that was very satisfying and left me wanting to read more! Yes, I can happily say that Perception is a Jane Austen sequel I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Perception picks up several years after Pride and Prejudice. We follow the lives of Mary and Kitty Bennet, the only daughters still at home with Mr. and Mrs. Bennet now that Jane, Lizzy and Lydia are married. As with Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet bemoans the plight of still having two unmarried daughters and wonders what will become of them. Mary, who is a bookish introvert who has accepted that she is not as beautiful as her sisters and also hates the societal conventions that require women to be frivolous and vapid, seems to accepted her lot in life. She assumes she will be a spinster who must take care of her parents when her sister Kitty eventually marries. For her part, Kitty worries that she will never meet anyone she wants to marry. She also assumes that she will end up a spinster, still living in her childhood bedroom and caring for her ageing parents. But, of course, fate…and the arrival of a very eligible bachelor shakes things up for both Mary and Kitty.

Perception excels at returning the reader to Longbourn House of Pride and Prejudice and into Mary and Kitty’s lives. Fleming does a wonderful job of recreating slightly older and (not always) wiser Mary and Kitty and their every day worries and squabbles. I loved watching the evolution of two women as individuals and as sisters. I also felt that the potential suitors Fleming created for the sisters were perfect choices and the arcs of their relationships was enjoyable to read, especially as Fleming often took unpredictable turns in the course of the story.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I can highly recommend Terri Fleming’s Perception. I loved following this wonderfully written sequel to Pride and Prejudice, and I look forward to reading more novels by Fleming.

My rating? 5 stars

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Review: Vienna Waltz by Mary Lancaster

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 17.03.03Synopsis:

Intrigue, suspicion and true love at the Congress of Vienna…

In 1814, with Napoleon finally defeated, the great and the good of Europe descend on Vienna to plan a lasting peace – and to dance.

Ejected from her home on the death of her father, Lizzie Gaunt – along with her gaggle of siblings and a large, unruly dog – finds herself in Vienna with her diplomat uncle. But Lizzie is determined not to remain dependent upon her aunt and uncle for long. After witnessing a daring theft, she recruits the unusual thief to carry out her plan – which should hurt no one except her father’s heir, the vile Russian cousin she’s dubbed Ivan the Terrible.

However, Lizzie’s simple scheme is soon complicated by a wounded Austrian spy, a formidable English matron, a masked Russian rakehell from the Emperor’s masquerade ball, and a mysterious villain selling information that could ruin the Congress before it properly begins. And then there’s Cousin Minerva’s romantic difficulties, and Cousin James’ gambling debts to sort out.

While Vienna dances, Lizzie tries to solve everyone’s problems, and ends by falling disastrously and dangerously in love.

 

Review:

I stumbled upon Mary Lancaster’s Vienna Waltz while doing research for a historical romance I would like to write. Since I love Vienna (it’s one of my favorite places to visit) and I’ve always been fascinated by the Austro-Hungarian empire, this was the perfect historical romance for me to read.

Vienna Waltz starts with a theft. Our heroine, Lizzie, is at the opera with her aunt and cousins when she witnesses a thief snatch a woman’s necklace. This act leads to a case of mistaken identities and romantic intrigues that in the heart of the Austrian capital.

This lighthearted and romantic novel does a fantastic job of capturing the grandeur and the intrigues around the Congress of Vienna, when heads of state gathered to negotiate long-term peace following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. Lancaster does a wonderful job of weaving fact with fiction, peppering her story with historical figures and a charming Russian hero, Vanya, who is not at all what he appears to be. In Lizzie, we get a headstrong heroine who is determined to do what she can for her orphaned sisters and brothers, even if it means putting her own life on a shelf.

If you love reading historical romances set during the regency era, but would love to read something other than stories set in England, then give Mary Lancaster’s Vienna Waltz, the first book in her Imperial Season series, a try. It’s exciting, well written and such a delight to read. I fell in love with Vanya and Lizzie and I think you will too.

My rating?

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Review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Screen Shot 2018-02-12 at 11.01.24

Title: Still Me (Me Before You, #3)

Author: Jojo Moyes

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release Date: 25 January 2018

SYNOPSIS

Lou Clark is back in the BRAND NEW Jojo Moyes novel Still Me, follow-up to the Number One international bestsellers Me Before You and After You.

Lou Clark knows too many things . . .

She knows how many miles lie between her new home in New York and her new boyfriend Sam in London.

She knows her employer is a good man and she knows his wife is keeping a secret from him.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to meet someone who’s going to turn her whole life upside down.

Because Josh will remind her so much of a man she used to know that it’ll hurt.

Lou won’t know what to do next, but she knows that whatever she chooses is going to change everything.

REVIEW

I was such a huge fan of Me Before You, so I felt compelled to read Still Me, even if After You (Me Before You, #2) was not really my favourite. I am so glad I went ahead and pre-ordered it for my Kindle.

For those of you who read and loved Me Before You, you’ll remember that one of the things that Will told Lou to do was to live boldly and to leave her hometown behind her and see the world. Well, now Lou’s in New York, working as a personal assistant to an über wealthy woman and trying to figure out what she really wants out of life. Will her year in the Big Apple open her eyes to new adventures or will she return home to her old life?

Well, I for one can say that I loved reading Still Me almost as much as I loved reading Me Before You. Lou is such a relatable character and her relationship with her new boyfriend, Sam, feels so real–even down to the the misunderstandings brought on by social media and text messages.

Don’t read Still Me expecting the major ugly cry moments of Me Before You. This is a completely different story, but it does have its emotional bits that will make you smile or wish you could grab Lou by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. 😉 You will definitely leave this book shaking your head and realising that F. Scott Fitzgerald was right when he said the rich are different. 😉

Highly recommended!

My rating?

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