2/24/2015

The Wedding Band by Cara Connelly ARC Review + Excerpt

Welcome to my blog tour stop featuring an ARC review, excerpt and tour giveaway!




THE WEDDING BAND
by Cara Connelly

SYNOPSIS:

Fans of Rachel Gibson and Jennifer Ryan can rejoice in Cara Connelly's Save the Date series. It's the most secretive celebrity wedding of the year, and Christine Case is going to be there!

No-nonsense journalist Christine Case still believes a newspaper should inform, not entertain. But when Chris's biggest story blows up in her face, she's out of a job unless she does the one thing she's sworn never to do—infiltrate a celebrity wedding and write an exposĂ© on the happy couple.

A-list heartthrob Dakota Rain loathes the press. So when he hosts his equally famous brother's wedding at his Beverly Hills estate, keeping the vultures at bay is Dakota's top priority—until he meets the sultry singer in the wedding band.

Posing as a singer is no problem for Chris, but when Dakota talks her into a private-island getaway, the hot days—and sizzling nights—make it impossible to go on deceiving him. But what will happen when the media-hating movie star discovers the woman he's falling for is really an undercover reporter?


Purchase Links:
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CHAPTER ONE
            Dakota Rain took a good hard look in the bathroom mirror and inventoried the assets.
            Piercing blue eyes? Check.
            Sexy stubble? Check.                                 
            Sun-streaked blond hair? Check.
            Movie-star smile?
            Uh-oh.
            In the doorway, his assistant rolled her eyes and hit speed dial. “Emily Fazzone here,” she said. “Mr. Rain needs to see Dr. Spade this morning. Another cap.” She listened a moment, then snorted a laugh. “You’re telling me. Might as well cap them all and be done with it.”
            In the mirror Dakota gave her his hit man squint. “No extra caps.”
            “Weenie,” she said, pocketing her phone. “You don’t have time today, anyway. Spade’s squeezing you in, as usual. Then you’re due at the studio at eleven for the voice-over. It’ll be tight, so step on it.”
            Deliberately, Dakota turned to his reflection again. Tilted his head. Pulled at his cheeks like he was contemplating a shave.
            Emily did another eye roll. Muttering something that might have been either “Get to work” or “What a jerk,” she disappeared into his closet, emerging a minute later with jeans, T-shirt, and boxer briefs. She stacked them on the granite vanity, then pulled out her phone again and scrolled through the calendar.
            “You’ve got a twelve o’clock with Peter at his office about the Levi’s endorsement, then a one-thirty fitting for your tux. Mercer’s coming here at two-thirty to talk about security for the wedding . . .”
            Dakota tuned her out. His schedule didn’t worry him. Emily would get him where he needed to be. If he ran a little late and a few people had to cool their heels, well, they were used to dealing with movie stars. Hell, they’d be disappointed if he behaved like regular folk.
            Taking his sweet time, he shucked yesterday’s briefs and meandered naked to the shower without thinking twice. He knew Emily wouldn’t bat an eye. After ten years nursing him through injuries and illness, puking and pain, she’d seen all there was to see. Broad shoulders? Tight buns? She was immune.
            And besides, she was gay.
            Jacking the water temp to scalding, he stuck his head under the spray, wincing when it found the goose egg on the back of his skull. He measured it with his fingers, two inches around.
            The same right hook that chipped his tooth had bounced his head off a concrete wall.
            Emily rapped on the glass. He rubbed a clear spot in the steam and gave her the hard eye for pestering him in the shower.
            She was immune to that too. “I asked you if we’re looking at a lawsuit.”
            “Damn straight.” He was all indignation. “We’re suing The Combat Zone. Tubby busted my tooth and gave me a concussion to boot.”
            She sighed. “I meant, are we getting sued? Tubby’s a good bouncer. If he popped you, you gave him a reason.”
            Dakota put a world of aggrievement into his Western drawl. “Why do you always take everybody else’s side? You weren’t there. You don’t know what happened.”
            “Sure I do. It’s October, isn’t it? The month you start howling at the moon and throwing punches at bystanders. It’s an annual event. The lawyers are on standby. I just want to know if I should call them.”
            He did the snarl that sent villains and virgins running for their mamas. Emily folded her arms.
            He stuck his head out the door. “Feel that.” He pointed at the lump.
            She jabbed it.
            “Ow! Damn it, Em, you’re mean as a snake.” He shut off the water, dripped his way across the bathroom, and twisted around in front of the mirror, trying to see the back of his head.
            “Was Montana with you?”
            “No.” Little brother’s clubbing days were over. Montana spent his evenings with his fiancĂ©e now.
            “Witnesses?”
            “Plenty.”
            “Paparazzi?”
            “Are you kidding?” He was always tripping over those leeches. October usually ended with one of them on the ground, Dakota punching the snot out of him while the rest of the bloodsuckers streamed it live.
            Em dragged her phone out again. “Hi, Peter. Yeah, Dakota got into it with Tubby last night. Just a broken tooth and a knot on his thick skull. But the press was there, so expect pictures. Okay, later.”
            Dakota gave up on the lump. His hair was too thick.
            And too damn long, an inch past his chin for the Western he’d start filming next month. Seemed like a lot of trouble for what amounted to another shoot-’em-up just like the last one, and the one before that. This time there’d be horses instead of hot rods, and six-guns instead of Uzis. But no real surprises, just lots of dead bodies.
            Em handed him a towel. “Car?”
            He glanced out the window. No surprises there either. Another sunny day in L.A. “Porsche. The black one.”
            She walked out of the bathroom, tapping her phone. “Tony, bring the black Porsche around, will you? And drop the top.”     

            Goosing the gas, Dakota squirted between a glossy Lexus and a pimped-out Civic, then shot through a yellow light and squealed a hard right into the In-N-Out Burger, braking at the drive-thru.
            “Gimme a three-by-three, fries, and a chocolate shake, will ya, darlin’?” He glanced at Em. “The usual?”
            She nodded, phone to her ear.
            “Throw in a grilled cheese for the meat-hater. And an extra straw.” He pulled forward behind a yellow Hummer.
            Still talking, Em opened her iPad, fiddled around, then held it up for him to see. Pictures of his go-round with Tubby.
            He shrugged like it didn’t bother him, but it did. Oh, he didn’t care if people knew he’d had his ass handed to him. That was inevitable; nobody beat Tubby.
            What pissed him off were the damn paparazzi.
            Everyone—Peter, Em, even Montana—told him the media was a fact of celebrity life. A necessary evil. And maybe that was true.
            But he’d never forgive them for Charlie. For driving a good man to suicide, then tearing at his remains like the flesh-eating vultures they were.
            And it wasn’t only the paparazzi who’d made money and careers off Charlie’s life and death. “Legitimate” journalists waded in too, exploiting his best friend’s disintegration, never letting humanity get in the way of a good story.
            The day they spread Charlie’s corpse across the front page, Dakota swore off “news” forever. No papers, no magazines, no CNN. Never again in this life.
            Pulling up to the window, he set aside his resentment and laid a practiced smile on the redhead inside. “Hey, Sandy-girl. What’s shakin’?”
            “Hey, Kota.” Her Jersey accent spread his nickname like butter. “I like the hair.”
            “You can have it when I cut it off.” He tipped her fifty bucks and she blew him a kiss.
            Peeling out of the lot, he handed off the bag to Em. She was still uh-huhing into her phone, so he plucked it from her hand.
            “Hey! That was Peter.”
            “We just saw him twenty minutes ago.” He rattled the bag.
            “Honest to God.” She unwrapped his burger and spread a napkin on his lap. Then she stuck both straws in the shake, took a long pull, and passed it over, half turning in her seat to eyeball him. “So what happened last night?”     
            He sucked down two inches of shake, then tucked it between his thighs. “Some asshole was hassling this girl. Feeling her up.” Manhandling the poor kid. Pinning her to the wall and rubbing all over her.
            “Tell me you didn’t hit him.”
            “I was about to.” And wouldn’t it have felt great to lay that pretty boy out? “I pulled him off her. Then Tubby waded in and spoiled my fun.”
            “And the October madness begins.” Em tipped back her head and stared up at blue sky. “Why, oh why, couldn’t Montana get married in September? Or November?”
            “Why does he have to get married at all?” It made no sense. Montana—or Tana, as he was known to family, friends, and his legions of Twitter followers—had the world by the balls. Women loved him. Hollywood loved him. The critics loved him. He was the indie darling, offered one challenging, nuanced role after another, while Kota got stuck blowing up cities and machine-gunning armies single-handedly.
            Sure, Kota made bigger box office. But Tana had the talent in the family.
            “Sasha’s a great girl,” Em pointed out.
            “Yeah, she’s a peach. But peaches grow on trees in California. Why settle for one when you can have the orchard?”
            Em punched his shoulder. “That’s for peaches everywhere, especially California.”
            Kota grinned and passed her the shake. “Call Mercer, will you, and tell him we’re running behind. I don’t want him getting pissed at us.”
            “Pfft. You never worry about anybody else’s feelings.”
            “Because they can’t kill us just by looking at us.”
            “See? You’re scared of him too.” She crossed her arms. “I wish you hadn’t hired him.”
            “So you’ve said about a million times. But Tana put me in charge of security, and Mercer’s the best.” His guys were ex-Rangers and Navy SEALs. “He says he’ll keep the press out, and I believe him.”
            “Well good luck with that. They always manage to sneak somebody inside.”
            “Not this time,” Kota vowed. A beach wedding might be a security nightmare—not to mention just plain pointless, since everyone was zipped into tents and couldn’t see the water anyway—but Mercer had it covered. Airtight perimeter, no-fly zone. Saturday’s guests and employees would be bussed in from a remote parking lot and wanded before admittance. Anyone caught with a recording device would be summarily executed—er, ejected.
            Kota gave a grim smile. “Believe me, Em, Mercer’s got it locked down. Not a single, slimy, sleazy reporter is getting into that wedding.”


Source: Publisher
This is my honest review
Rating: 4 Stars - LOVED

If you like celebrity romances, then take note of Cara Connelly’s The Wedding Band. This one has two famous brothers! The Rain brothers are Hollywood royalty, and The Wedding Band focuses more on older brother Dakota Rain (“Kota” for short). Kota is hosting his brother’s wedding and taking charge of security. He wants the press to stay away so that private moments stay private, but little does he know that the wedding singer, who he has quickly become smitten with, is harboring a huge secret. Christy Case is a reporter who goes undercover to this big celebrity wedding. It’s the groom’s brother who unwittingly gives her the biggest opportunity of all by inviting her to join him for a getaway after the wedding. Question is…what will she do with all the juicy details that she uncovers.

One of the things I loved about this story is that the setting goes from Hollywood to Kota’s private island paradise. In Hollywood, Kota has to act a certain way even when not on set. He has to have his guard up all the time. On the island, he can be carefree with no worries. I was actually quite surprised that I ended up liking both Christy and Kota. Yes, Christy is not very truthful about her job, but she’s not your typical reporter. I felt kind of bad for the situation she found herself in, which lead her to the island with Kota. Kota won me over with his love for all broken, damaged, unwanted animals! I mean…goodness…if you love a hero who has a huge animal-loving heart, you will need to read this book.

Overall, I enjoyed The Wedding Band, which can be read as a standalone. There is a bit of the typical Hollywood drama, which I was expecting, but what celebrity romance doesn’t have that? Nevertheless, I found parts of the plot refreshing and thoroughly entertaining!


About the Author:

Cara Connelly is an award-winning author of contemporary romances. Her smart and sexy stories have won high praise, earning Cara several awards, including the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart®, the Valley Forge Romance Writers' Sheila, and the Music City Romance Writers' Melody of Love. Cara, who lives in rural Upstate New York, works as an appellate court attorney when she's not crafting steamy novels of love and romance. - See more at: http://avonromance.com/author/cara-connelly#sthash.SFDWo2JO.dpuf

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2/20/2015

#CoverReveal ~ #CookieCutter by Jo Richardson Releases March 23, 2015

Releasing
March 23, 2015


Title: Cookie Cutter
Author: Jo Richardson
Genre: Contemporary RomCom
Publisher: Little Bird Publishing

Synopsis:
Iris Alden and Carter Blackwood couldn't be more different. Change-averse Iris likes her life neat and organized, while Carter's itchy feet mean he doesn’t plan to stay in the same place for long.

When Carter moves into the house across the street from Iris, to renovate it, she fights the disruption it causes in her life. Before long, though, it's not simply the house Carter's rebuilding, but Iris's heart, too.

Add to your TBR on Goodreads

“What are you doing here?”


It’s Carter freaking Blackwood. Of course.

He smiles that ridiculously bright, white smile of his and lets out a soft snicker. “I’m fixing a floor for a friend, what are you doing here?”

It’s completely obvious what I’m doing here, seeing as I’m carrying two huge trays of sugar cookies in my arms.

“A friend? You just moved in. How do you have friends already?” I say it a bit harsher than I probably should but honestly, how does he have friends already?  James and I were here a good six months before people started really talking to me.  It was a year before I could call any of them friends. The edges of Carter’s mouth turn down and his head dips to one side as his shoulders hunch then settle.

“People like me, I guess.”

The smug look on his face is enough to make me want to slap it.  Or kiss it.

Wait. Not kiss it. I didn’t mean kiss it. Why am I staring at his lips?

“People who don’t want to kill me that is.  Are you okay?”

I blink, and search my brain, but I’m still not quite sure what to say to him, so I extend my arms. “I brought cookies.” As soon as I say the words, I hear them. I sound ridiculous and Carter’s bright eyes crinkle with amusement.

He closes his lids and he breathes the baked goods in. Then hums. The sound of his voice sends a vibration through me and I shiver. I am eternally grateful that he doesn’t see it happen.

His eyes open slowly. When they reach mine, I’m glued to his stare like a deer in headlights.

“Those cookies smell really fucking good, Iris.”

The bedroom eyes catch me off guard and my mouth falls open so I snap it shut. I’m a buffoon with no ability to speak.

“Can I have one?” He reaches out and I balance the platter with one hand, then slap his fingers with the other while I find words. A word that is.

“No.”

“Ow.” He pulls his hand away, like a child getting reprimanded, only when we make eye contact again, he doesn’t seem child like to me.

I wouldn’t say he’s angry. He doesn’t exactly laugh, either. And his eyes gleam as he stares at me. I hate his eyes almost as much as I hate his teeth. Maybe more. Dammit, I’m staring, again.

“They’re for Ally’s class,” I tell him. “Fundraiser, I mean bake sale.” I fumble my words. He’s so frustrating.



Other works by Jo:
Cursed be the Wicked, a paranormal mystery romance, released March 2014 through Soul Mate Publishing
AMAZON | B&N | GOODREADS

Lost in Christmas, a short story included in Soul Mate Publishing’s 2013 Christmas anthology

About Jo:
A movie fanatic, a writer of stories, a lover of life.

Jo grew up in Maryland with four siblings, three parents and an endless number of cousins within the vicinity – but it was too cold up North for this thin blooded girl. So today, she lives in Florida with her two girls and a husband that shares her same sense of humor and basic take on life as we know it.

Life is too short to put dreams on the back burner.

Jo tells contemporary stories with romance, humor, the supernatural, the paranormal, suspense, mystery, action and anything else she can think up.

In 2012, she wrote Cursed be the Wicked, a character driven, paranormal mystery romance that was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing and released in March of 2014. Since then, Jo has also written a couple of short stories and her recently contracted contemporary romantic comedy, entitled Cookie Cutter, is set to release on March 23, 2015 through Little Bird Publishing.

Social Media:
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/JRRichardson

2/17/2015

Back in the Game by Lori Wilde ~ Blog Tour ARC Review + Excerpt



Back In the Game
Stardust, Texas # 1
By: Lori Wilde
Publisher: Avon
Releasing February 24th, 2015

Blurb:
New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde welcomes you to Stardust, Texas . . . where dreams come true and love is always right around the corner

Wanted: ghostwriter. Must be female, a baseball fan, and have a great pair of legs.

Ex-pitcher Rowdy Blanton never saw a woman he couldn't conquer or a team he couldn't beat. And now that he's off the field he's ready to tell all about when he played the field. So he chooses Breeanne Carlyle to do the job-she's got the requirements, but more important, there's something about her that makes him want to be a better man.

Convinced there's more to Rowdy than a good fastball, a wicked smile, and a tight pair of pants, Breeanne can't help but be tempted. After all, it's boring always being the good girl, and Rowdy dares her to be just a little bad. The stakes are high, but win or lose, this time Breeanne's breaking all the rules playing the game of love.

Breeanne Carlyle disliked estate sales.
The forlorn belongings of the recently departed, cataloged and arranged for easy browsing, gave her chill bumps in the same way as the turkey buzzards that nested in the Loblolly pine outside her bedroom window. Each year the vultures raised a new set of voracious young to patrol the two-lane, farm-to-market road extending from Stardust, Texas north to Jefferson, keen-eyed for the misfortune of others.
            It was not what Breeanne wanted to do with her life, this picking through of things left behind.
But here she was, doing it all the same.
            How could she tell her parents that she had dreams beyond Timeless Treasures? While she loved the family business that was part antique store, part bookstore, part tearoom, and the undisputed hub of Stardust for the last twenty-five years, she burned for a real writing career.
            She’d enjoyed a tiny bit of literary success, just enough to stoke the flickering candle of her hunger to a raging blaze. She’d written a book about her great-aunt Polly, who played centerfield in the Women’s Professional Baseball League during WWII. She’d gotten an agent, sold to a regional press for a modest advance, and they had contracted her to write a follow up book about the history of baseball in Texas.
            Foolishly, stupidly, she believed she was on her way.
            Then her publisher went out of business. No one else wanted the second book. Her agent quit taking her calls. Doggedly determined to make it as a writer, she self-published her second book.
            And promptly fell down the well of Internet obscurity.
            The book had been available online for six months, and despite extensive promotional efforts that plowed through her savings, she’d sold the grand total of eighty-seven copies, and as far as she could tell, every single one of those to family and friends.
            “That means you have eighty-seven people who love you enough to buy your book,” her mother said at Breeanne’s disappointment. “You are rich beyond words.”
            “You’re working too hard,” Dad had said. “Take a break.”
            Her father’s comment splashed over her like gasoline on a campfire. “No,” she declared, shocked by the powerful punch of anger pushing out of her. “You’re wrong. I haven’t been working hard enough!”
            Unaccustomed to opinionated outbursts from their most easy-going daughter, her parents had both taken a step back, and exchanged wary glances.
            “You’re becoming obsessed with this writing thing,” her mother said. “It’s not healthy. You need to relax. Go swing in the hammock. Get some sunshine.”
             Dad smiled a gentle smile. “You know, Angel, it’s next to impossible to make a living as a writer. The Rangers are playing the Cardinals on TV at two, what say you come watch the game with your old man?”
             Because she did love her father and baseball, Breeanne backed down, and instead of going to her room to write, she went to watch the game with him. But the entire time, she couldn’t stop thinking, he doesn’t believe in me, they don’t believe in me, no one believes in me.


Source: Publisher
This is my honest review
Rating: 4 Stars - LOVED

Lori Wilde takes her readers to Stardust, Texas in book 1 of her latest series. In Back in the Game, Breeanne Carlyle is a dreamer, a budding writer, and believer of romance. She’s been a baseball fan since she was a little girl. Through a series of fortunate (and somewhat funny) events, Breeanne ends up as Rowdy Blanton’s ghostwriter, and now she will need to work in close proximity with her long-time crush and hometown baseball hero. Will she be able to resist Rowdy’s playboy charm and keep things strictly on business? Or will she dare put her heart on the line and throw caution to the wind?

What a lovely sports romance! There’s a whole other side to Rowdy’s playboy persona, and his background just crushed me. Actually, both their backstories touched my heart. Breeanne is written as the ordinary girl who desperately wants to spread her wings despite what her family thinks. I thought the way she became Rowdy’s ghostwriter was adorable and slightly magical. I was a little worried that the “magical” parts would play a prominent part of the story, but Lori Wilde continued to carefully carve out the main relationship into something believable, which I very much appreciated.

Slightly predictable, but overall engaging, Back in the Game is one of those small town stories where you just want to root for the couple from beginning to end. Since this is book #1 of a brand new series, we get an introduction to the Carlyle family. I found Breeanne’s family to be quirky, protective but loving, and fun! They know how to throw a good party! So many interesting possibilities can develop in the next books. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Wilde has plans for Breeanne’s sisters! A great start to the Stardust, Texas series!

Goodreads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22401418-back-in-the-game?ac=1
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/129829-stardust-texas
Buy Links:  Amazon | Barnes | ITunes | Kobo | Publisher

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde has sold seventy-eight works of fiction to four major New York Publishing houses.
Her first NYT bestseller, the third book in her Twilight, Texas series, The First Love Cookie Club has been optioned for a television movie. The town of Granbury, Texas, upon which her fictional town of Twilight, Texas is loosely based, honors Lori with an annual Twilight, Texas weekend each Christmas.
A popular writing instructor, Lori is a two time RITA finalist and has four times been nominated for Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award. She's won the Colorado Award of Excellence, the Wisconsin Write Touch Award, The Golden Quill, the Lories, and The More than Magic.
Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest  | Goodreads

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