One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton #BookReview

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Milly loves her sisters more than anything – they are her best friends. But this holiday is different. The loss of their dad has left a gaping hole in their lives that none of them know how to fill. Heartbreak is a hard thing to fix …

Still, there is plenty to keep the girls busy in Rome. A family wedding. Food, wine, parties and sun. And of course Luke …. Luke is hot, there is no way around that. And Milly will always have a crush on him. But this summer is about family, being together, and learning to live without Dad. It isn’t about Luke at all … is it?

amazon uk  amazon com

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star three and a half

Three sisters and their mother are going on vacation.. a happy occasion, a wedding, in the land of ‘amore’, Italy. This sounds like the perfect light summer reading and it is, the atmosphere, the people in Italy, the food, the sights, the Trevi fountain.. it was all easily imaginable and what’s more, it made me want to be there!

There’s only one thing that’s obvious right from the start of this novel, this family is dealing with the grief of losing someone. They all deal with it in their own way. I was happy to see that it didn’t weigh the story down at all though, it wasn’t written in a depressing way but more through the sharing of funny stories and reminiscing about their father. Even when hearing about the good and joyous things, you can feel how someone is missed so much. He seemed such a nice man and a good father. He was the life of any party, he listened to his daughters, he was the jokey dad, he wasn’t there anymore but through everything that was said it was easy to feel the emptiness he left behind.

Dad was sunshine and music and laughter.

I really liked this little family, the three sisters looking out for each other. I felt Leonie was sometimes more mature than Milly even though she was the youngest. I liked Luke as well, allthough I didn’t feel like I really got to know him. But he’s a good guy and someone who doesn’t go running from someone else’s grief. He knows what to say, he knows how to listen.

Maybe this wedding won’t be such a horrible event after all?

One Italian Summer was a very enjoyable and perfect summery read. There was room for much more than just the romance part and it was just as much about all the other family dynamics and relationships.

I received a free copy of this novel from my great blogger friend Nicki from the blog SecretLibrary. This is my honest opinion.

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The Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon #BookReview

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What’s it about?

When life feels like a puzzle, sometimes it’s the small pieces that make up the bigger picture… Join Bridget on a journey to put her world back together.

A successful travel journalist, Bridget has ambitions to turn her quirky relationship blog about the missing pieces of her heart into a book. But after a spate of rejections from publishers, she accepts an alternative proposition.

Nicole Dupré died leaving behind a bestselling novel and an incomplete sequel. Tasked with finishing the book, Bridget is thankful to have her foot in the publishing door, even if it means relocating to Cornwall for the summer and answering to Nicole’s grieving husband, Charlie…

amazon uk amazon com

Review

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The problem with giving your heart away to someone is that you never fully get it back. Long after you’ve fallen out of love with them, they still own a little piece of you. That’s why first love is always the strongest: it’s the only time you ever love wholeheartedly.

These are the first three sentences of the novel. Kind of sets the tone, right? I was enamoured right from the very first pages, especially when I saw what kind of swoonworthy beginning the story the author had in mind.

It wasn’t all sunshine and hearts though, my feet were put firmly on the ground again when Bridget suddenly finds herself miles away from her boyfriend when she takes up a job writing as a ghost writer in lieu of the deceased bestselling author Nicole Dupré who left behind an unfinished manuscript.

Bridget has to deal with Nicole’s grieving husband Charlie and his 8-month old daughter April while she trawls through all of his late wife’s notes and diaries. Babies freak her out, they don’t seem to like her and she doesn’t particularly like them. She’s also working on her blog in between in hope of publishing her own book about her past lovelife after writing a book she didn’t really want to write.

This story had its moments of grief and its fun moments. I really loved how she gradually warmed up to little April, it was heart-warming to see how much they started to interact and how much love there was between them and along with it she helps Charlie to start living again. A difficult and delicate plotline, and it really takes quite some time before Bridget starts to acknowledge her feelings and even then she knows better than to rush things.

This novel felt like I was reading a story in a story. It’s not very hard to notice, Nicole was writing about a travel writer who falls in love with two different men on two different continents. The cool part is that Bridget can read about Morris and Timo (the fictuous characters) in Nicole’s diaries because she obviously found her inspiration in real people close to her. Did she really love them both in real life as well? Then there’s Bridget who has a boyfriend she left behind in another country as well and she’s kind of bonding over time with Charlie, even though it’s just ‘friendship’. It’s not hard to see some similarities. So how will she end Nicole’s story? Is she going to end up with good dependable Morris or with rock-climber Timo from Thailand? You’ll have to read to find out.

Paige Toon made me really care for the characters with her excellent writing and she didn’t rush the romance, it was perfectly paced so that I could really enjoy this contemporary romance. I wanted to read at least one really great summer romance novel this year and I believe this is the one!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Hooker and the Hermit by L.S. Cosway and Penny Reid #BookReview

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What’s it about?

New York’s Finest – Blogging as *The Socialmedialite* – April 22

LADIES AND GENTS! I have an announcement!
You know that guy I featured on my blog a few months ago? The really, really hot Irish rugby player who plays the position of ‘hooker’ in the RLI (Rugby League International)? The one with the anger management issues, the body of a gladiator and the face of a movie star? The one with the questionable fashion choices leading me to ask whether he was the lovechild of a leprechaun and a hobbit? Ronan Fitzpatrick? Yeah, that guy. Well, I have a confession to make…

THE HERMIT
Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much.

THE HOOKER
Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite…

THE PLAN
When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together.
What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is?

The Hooker and the Hermit is a collaboration between authors L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid, is a full length 110k word novel, and is a standalone

amazon uk amazon com

Review

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I adored Six of Hearts by L.S. Cosway and that novel even made it into my top 10 reads of last year because of how original and hot it was so I really wanted to read another novel by L.H. Cosway and I went back to read the first one, The Hooker and the Hermit, which she’s co-written with Penny Reid. Of course I’ve had it on my e-reader for so long that I didn’t remember what it was about and it seems I had a bit of a misconception about the title there.. It’s not often but this time it would have been a good idea to read the blurb :-), just saying.

I absolutely loved the first half of the novel but then I got the feeling the second part wasn’t exactly in line with the first one. At first it was so incredibly witty and really funny as hell and I recognized myself even a little bit in the hermit that Annie Catrel was. What’s more, nobody knows she blogs (don’t I know it) as The Socialmedialite where she spouts her unabashed opinion about popular celebrities. This is what she likes to do most, this is where she can be herself. She doesn’t hold back in her comments on clothing styles and only days after she featured a Colin Farell lookalike on the blog and made fun of his lycra shorts and toe-shoes (really, who wears that ?!) she meets him in real life and HE sets his sights on her.

This novel is filled with quite a few clichés, like shy girl who falls for a famous guy and he of course finds a way to get her to come out of her shell. There’s the crappy childhood and the inevitable commitment issues. It was kind of predictable but even that didn’t bother me all that much. I also really liked their budding romance.. Ronan is deliciously foul-mouthed and he’s not afraid to push her bounderies and make her blush again and again, going further by being very suggestive every time they meet and have to talk business.

All was well, it was definitely getting hotter by the minute.. and then the story takes on some sort of 50 shades of grey shape (complete with safe words although they were funnier than in the original version, luckily there wasn’t a contract, at least in that sense) and the cute feel of the novel was stumped immediately. Gone were the jokes and the tension. I didn’t know what I was expecting but this wasn’t it. Annie didn’t feel like the Annie I got to know anymore and I’m not only talking about her nympho tendencies but also because she seemed so composed in the beginning and suddenly she’s anything but collected.

What started out as a really funny read didn’t end in the same way for me but if you like it funny but you don’t mind some bdsm later on, you should definitely read this one. I’m still happy I read one of her later novels and I think it’s wise to leave the earlier work and pick up again with the sequel to Six of Hearts (Macabre Magic #Hearts 1.5 and Hearts of Fire #Hearts 2).

Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown #BlogTour #GuestPost #Giveaway

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Title: Little Gray Dress
Author: Aimee Brown
Release Date: August 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Genre: Romantic Comedy/Chick Lit
GoodReads: add Little Gray Dress to your to be read list

Book Blurb

Emi Harrison has avoided her ex-fiance, Jack Cabot, for nearly two years. Her twin brother Evan’s wedding is about to end that streak.

From bad bridesmaid’s dresses, a hyperactive sister-in-law, a mean girl with even meaner secrets, and too much to drink, nothing seems to go right for Emi, except when she’s wearing her little gray dress.

When she speed-walks into Liam Jaxon’s bar, things get more complicated. He’s gorgeous, southern, and has no past with Emi. He may be exactly what she needs to prove for the last time that she doesn’t need or want Jack!

Her favorite little gray dress has made an appearance at nearly every major event in Emi’s adult life. Will it make another when she least expects it?

AmazonUS: eBook – $2.99 | print – $9.99

AmazonUK: eBook – £1.99| print – £6.99

Barnes & Noble: print – $9.99

I have the cutest Giveaway for the tour – pictured here <– & opened worldwide.

Included is a ‘create’ coffee cup, some dark & handsome K-cup pods, a cute Life is Short, Eat Cake wall art, some tiny macaroons, a Little Gray Dress bookmark & postcard!

Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aimee Brown is a writer and an avid reader. Little Gray Dress is her first published novel. My second novel is in the works now. She’s currently studying for her Bachelor’s degree in English Writing. She spends much of her time writing, doing homework, raising three teenagers, binge watching shows on Netflix and obsessively cleaning and redecorating her house. She’s fluent in sarcasm and has been known to utter profanities like she’s competing for a medal.

Aimee grew up in Oregon but is now a transplant living in cold Montana with her husband of twenty years, three teenage children, and far too many pets.

She would love to hear your thoughts on Little Gray Dress! If you’d like to chat with her she’s very active on social media. You can find her at any of the networks below. Stop by and say hello!

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Website/Blog | GoodReads | Amazon Page | Newsletter

Guestpost

Writers Block is my Arch Enemy

I’ve never experienced something more terrifying than a blank page. Once I get to about 20k words things go easier for me than when I’m staring at a blank page. It’s not even necessarily writer’s block completely, but more the fear or the wrong opening.

So many times I’ve read about how important your first sentence, first page, and first chapter are in a book. That’s your hook. If you can’t hook a reader in the first few pages, they may not continue. It’s stressful!

When I open a book to a bunch of back story or ‘setting’ info, it loses me immediately. Or a prologue! Those are the worst. Holy hell, just make it a chapter if it’s so important.

If I open to a conversation, I immediately feel as if I’m in the middle of the story right from the first sentence. That’s my intent as a writer. To always start so you immediately feel immersed in whatever is going on. It’s not always that easy though.

Sometimes I can start a story and feel like right from the first line that it’s the right opening. Considering I’ve only got one book out though, clearly I delete more than I keep. Getting past the first few chapters is at times, a challenge for me. Investing myself in a story I’m not completely happy with the opening, is unheard of for me. If I’m not happy with the first chapter, I absolutely can not move on. It’s my set up. That’s the moment I have to make sure you as a reader choose to continue reading what I’ve written.

It’s a lot of pressure and sometimes that pressure can result in me staring at a blank screen for hours on end. Or worse yet, filling the screen with words and then ultimately deleting them because I’ve decided I hate them.

For some authors, I’m sure it’s easier to commit and keep whatever they write. Writer’s block or some form of it has maybe never made an appearance in their life. I’m jealous. It seems to be my arch enemy or rather, maybe my kryptonite. Sometimes, I feel crippled by it. Sometimes, writer’s block manages to convince me that I’m the worst writer in the world. Other times, I hit back, tell it off and stomp on it on the way to my destination. That’s rarer than me giving up and walking away hoping to start again ‘tomorrow’.

Writer’s block has claimed ten years of my tomorrows and now that I’ve tackled it, I’m determined to not let it steal any more days from me. Commitment and determination are the two hardest traits for me to overcome. I constantly change my mind. I daren’t read Little Gray Dress now that it’s out or I’ll wonder how I ever got published. I can’t be the only one like this? Surely more writers than just myself struggle with a blank page?

My only advice for writer’s block is this… don’t think about it, just write. No one needs to see your first draft. You can include anything and fix it later. It’s easier to edit a disaster of a first draft, but not as easy to edit a blank page. If you’re anything like me though, don’t reread what you’ve written until you are completely finished, just continue on and fix things later. Farewell writer’s block, I’m going to X you out.

Check out the other blog stops too! Tomorrow:

Book Lover in Florida with an excerpt!

Weds – August 2nd

Blog on the Run – Book Review/Author Guest Post after 2nd
Books and Photographs – Book Review
Judging More Than Just the Cover – Book Review/Author Interview
Nicole Evelina – Book Review/Guest Post
The Novel Girl Reads – Book Review/Excerpt/Author Q&A

Thurs – August 3rd

Chick Lit Central – Author Interview
NovelGossip – Book Review
Hey Said Renee – Author Guest Post
Romantic Reads and Such – Book Excerpt
Steamy Book Mama – Book Review

Fri – August 4th

BrizzleLass Books – Book Review
O.D. Book Reviews – Book Excerpt
He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post
Corinne Desjardins – Book Spotlight
Where Dragons Recide – Book Review/Author Q&A

Sat – August 5th

JenaBooks – Book Review
Sylv.net – Spotlight Post
Got Books, Babe? – Author Guest Post
The Writing Garnet – Book Review

Sun – August 6th

I Read Novels – Book Review
It’s my Life – Book Excerpt
RaeReads – Book Review
Keelee Morris – Author Guest Post
GrassMonster – Book Review

Mon – August 7th

Living Life with Joy – Book Review/Giveaway/Author Q&A
The Belgian Reviewer – Author Guest Post
Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt
Haddie’s Heaven – Spotlight Post
Books in my Opinion – Book Review
Literature Goals – Book Review/Excerpt/Author Q&A

Tue – August 8th

Reading to Unwind – Book Review
Kristin’s Novel Café – Book Excerpt & Giveaway/Book Review
Key of Dee – Author Guest Post
FrankyBrown – Book Excerpt
Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog – Book Reviews (3)

Weds – August 9th

Ink, Maps and Macarons – Giveaway/Author Q&A
Heartalefix – Book Review
Tea Party Princess – Author Guest Post/(possible) Review
One Book at a Time – Book Excerpt/Spotlight/Book Review

Thurs – August 10th

ItaPixie’s Book Corner – Book Review/Excerpt
Rosa Temple Writes – Author Guest Post
Life at 17 – Spotlight Post
Daily Waffle – Book Excerpt/Author Q&A

Fri – August 11th

Pretty Little Book Reviews – Book Review
Sparkly Word – Book Review
Books and Readers – Book Review/Excerpt/Giveaway/Guest Post
Ali the Dragon Slayer – Book Review
Katie Lady Reads – Book Review
Rambling Lisa’s Book Reviews – Book Review/Book Excerpt

Sat – August 12th

Life of a Simple Reader – Book Review/Excerpt
Karlita – Goodreads/Social Media – Book Review
KD Reads – Book Review/Giveaway/Guest Post
D.K. Hamilton – Book Review/Author Q&A
20CC Reviews – Book Review
TrashyBibloBlog – Book Review/Excerpt

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I Have Never by Camilla Isley #BlogTour #Excerpt

Welcome to my blog stop! I’m delighted to share with you Chapter 1 of this wonderful romantic novel I Have Never where we’re introduced to Blair and her ‘P&P’ expectations for the day ;-).

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Title: I Have Never
Author: Camilla Isley
Release Date: July 13th, 2017
Genre: Chick Lit

Twenty-nine-year-old Blair Walker is a girl with a plan, or more a girl with a list. A list of dos and don’ts to live the perfect life, land a dream career, and marry Mr. Right.

When Blair loses her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend all in one day, she starts to wonder if she’s had it all wrong. And what better way to find out than experience everything the list forbade?

With hilarious consequences, Blair will discover some items are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…

A laugh out loud romantic comedy perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk, Sophie Kinsella, and Mhairi McFarlane. First Comes Love is a series of interconnected romantic novels. However, each book in the series can be read as a standalone novel.

 

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband in an adventure abroad. She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

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One

Never Make a Scene

The day it all goes wrong starts as a more or less ordinary one. My fit watch startles me awake at dawn and, forty minutes later, notifies me I’ve run five miles through Central Park. A perfect six-minute-per-mile time.

Back at Gerard’s apartment, he’s still asleep. I peel off my sweaty clothes, take a quick shower, and wake Sleeping Boyfriend with a kiss and the aroma of French-pressed mocha.

“Morning, sleepy head,” I say affectionately.

“What time is it?” he asks, still groggy.

“Six-thirty, time to go.”

Gerard groans and shuffles out of bed. We eat breakfast in the kitchen listening to the morning news. Me wearing a towel; him in boxer shorts.

Fifteen minutes later, I brush crumbs off my lips and get up. “I’ve better get going, big day today!”

“Oh, right. The announcement for the new junior editor is today.”

“Yes, this morning.”

“Nervous?”

“Positive,” I say, showing more confidence than I feel.

“Listen, babe,” Gerard says, jaw twitching. A sign he’s worried. “Why don’t we go out tonight to… mmm… celebrate?” He’s being awkward. Why is he so tense? “I want to talk to you about something important.”

Something important? Is Gerard finally going to propose? After three years together, it’s about time.

I smile slyly. “Sure, dinner out sounds amazing.”

P&P. Promotion and proposal all in one day. This is going to be the best day of my life.

“Now I really have to get ready for the office.” I kiss Gerard’s forehead. “Text me when you’ve made a reservation, yeah?”

He nods, and I waltz into his room to change. Many people hate their jobs, but I love mine. Well, not exactly the job I have—advertising—but the job I could have starting today. Junior Fashion Editor of Évoque Magazine, the top female media brand in the world. Marketing was just my way in—an editorial position has always been the end goal.

Unfortunately, almost everyone else working at Évoque shares this dream. But I still hope to beat the odds. Annabelle Visser, our Editor-in-Chief—yeah, the mean devil wearing Prada—more than hinted that sales numbers will have a weight in the decision. Since joining Évoque five years ago, I’ve worked like a slave to become the star of my department. So if not written in stone, my promotion has at least been stitched in silk.

On all fours, I retrieve my sleepover bag from under Gerard’s bed. One of my chief rules in relationships is don’t move in without a ring. So whenever I spend the night at Gerard’s house, I bring the essentials and leave nothing behind. This duffle bag is like an extra limb.

I shove my dirty running gear in a separate tote bag, then change into the working clothes I brought over: a black leather pencil skirt and emerald blouse that makes my green eyes pop. To intensify the effect, I shadow my eyelids to get that smoky look. At the office, exceptionally prim grooming comes with the territory and is expected of every employee.

Makeup done, I pull my natural strawberry red hair up in an intentionally messy bun, put on a bold shade of red lipstick, and wink at my image.

I’m the picture of a young, successful woman ready to conquer the fashion world.

From Gerard’s Park Avenue condo, I can walk to work. The weather’s perfect, and the late spring breeze only adds to my good mood. I wear foldable flats up to the edge of Central Park and then switch gears: plastic ballerinas for gel-cushioned pumps. I never show myself in public without heels. Not since that time when I went to Six Flags in my twenties wearing sneakers, and an attendant asked to check my height before he allowed me on a ride. For the record, I was a good six inches above the minimum.

In front of my office’s skyscraper, I pause for a second to admire the building. Working at Northwestern, the publishing powerhouse of Manhattan, always gives me a thrill of pride. This is the place everyone wants to be. The building itself screams luxury and power from every glass panel and metal joint.

Ahead of me, the automatic doors sweep open, a strong, cool draft tightening my pencil skirt against my legs. Even the air feels expensive. As usual, I’m the first one in. Good. I always enjoy working in the quiet hours of the morning.

I stuff my duffle bag out of sight under my desk and turn on my laptop.

Will HR call me? Or will it be my new boss? This is the first time I’ve been promoted to a different department, so I’m not sure if the procedure is similar to same-department promotions. In the past, my current boss always delivered the news, but since I’ll no longer work for her…

My landline trills, jolting me out of my thoughts.

I inhale, exhale, and then answer. “Blair Walker, Évoque Magazine.”

“Miss Walker, this is Emilia Peterson from Human Resources. Please come up to my office right away.”

“Absolutely, I’ll be there in two minutes.”

Emilia is our Talent Manager Coordinator—and she wants to see me. With a cheek-aching smile on my face, I rush to the elevators.

One floor up, I knock on Emilia’s door, my stomach knotting in anticipation.

A muffled voice comes from behind the panel wall. “Come in.”

If voices could be described as lipstick shades, Emilia’s would be a Chanel Rouge. Suave. Confident.

I step into the office. Emilia—tall, platinum blonde, and lethally thin—lifts her icy gaze from some papers and says, “Ah, Blair. Please close the door and sit down.” She gestures at the white chair in front of her white desk. Cold blue eyes settle on me. “Would you like some water?”

More some champagne. “No, thanks. I’m good.”

“Very well, let’s get straight to it.” She folds her hands and sighs. “As you know, the position of Junior Fashion Editor was extremely coveted…”

Was? Is it mine now? I can’t wait for her to say it, but I politely let her continue with her perfunctory speech. I can wait a few more minutes before I ask about the pay rise and extra benefits.

“…the race was tight, and you were an honorable runner-up…”

I nod my approval before my thoughts screech to a halt. Wait, what? Isn’t this the part where she congratulates me and assigns me a new corporate phone? I was really hoping to get the new iPhone.

“What do you mean runner-up?”

“I mean you were an outstanding candidate.”

“But not the winner?” My voice isn’t nearly as steady as I’d like it to be—it projects a 99cents lip balm at best, regardless of the actual shade I’m wearing.

“Unfortunately, no. You didn’t get the position,” Emilia confirms, never taking her eyes off me.

“Who?”

“It doesn’t really matter—”

“It does matter. Annabelle herself said sales figures would count toward the final decision. My numbers are better than everybody else’s!”

“Your numbers are good, but not the best.”

“No other sales manager signed as many contracts as I did this past year. I’ve put in more overtime and weekends to make sure of that. No one beats my numbers.”

“Someone did,” Emilia insists, her tone severe.

“Who?” I ask again.

For the first time, the corporate witch lowers her gaze, a shadow of guilt crossing her face. “Aurora.”

“Aurora?” I repeat. “But her figures are awful!”

Emilia looks at me again, impassible. “One of her long-standing clients increased their expenditure considerably… it tipped the balance in her favor.” Again, I sense she’s holding something back.

Comprehension hits me. “You mean her mother bought the editor position for her!”

Aurora’s mother, Rebecca Vanderbilt, is an iconic fashion designer with the power of old and new money combined. I never stood a chance against that kind of firepower.

“I know it might seem unfair…”

Are my ears functioning? Is our dear Talent Manager Coordinator trying to deny the injustice?

“Because it is unfair,” I say, “You’re ignoring the best employee to promote the one with a pedigree.”

Emilia’s nostrils flare. “We’re promoting the employee who brought the magazine the most business, regardless of how they got it.”

No point in arguing further. It’s clear the decision is irrevocable. Emilia’s immaculate white desk blinds me as I fight the tears threatening to shed. I take a few moments to steady myself before asking, “Is that all, am I free to go?”

“I understand you want to get this over with. You’ll see we’ve put together an extremely generous severance package…” Emilia switches to a brisk, down-to-business tone so quickly it dizzies me.

“Severance?” I repeat.

“Yes. This might seem like a setback at first, but I’m really doing you a favor here.”

“A favor?” I sound like a talking parrot, only able to repeat the words I’m hearing.

“Yes. Advertising is not your field. You don’t like marketing, and I don’t know when there’ll be another editorial position available.”

“Why are you firing me?” I ask, still in disbelief.

“Motivation is an important aspect of your job, and you wouldn’t be able to bring your best effort to the table after today.”

“Is it just me, or are all the other applicants being fired as well?

“Some other senior advertisers are being let go. Of course, I can’t disclose their names,” she says without batting an eyelid. “As I said, motivation is key—”

“Meaning you can no longer dangle the carrot of an editor position in our faces to have us slave for you day after day. What’s next? Are you hiring college grads to string them along instead?”

“Your replacement does not concern you.”

“Oh gosh, that’s exactly what you’re doing!” I nearly shriek. “Are you trying to run for worst employer of the year?” The words leave my mouth before I can swallow them back.

“No, Blair, we run a business. I thought you were sensible enough to know that. And honestly, I expected you to behave like a professional. If anything, this behavior just wiped away any regrets we might have had about not promoting you. Really, Blair. There’s no need to make a scene.”

Those last words slap me harder than if she’d actually hit me. Making petty scenes goes against my creed, against my list of dos and don’ts. The list that’s helped to keep me focused on my life goals and out of trouble since I was a teenager. I carry it wherever I go; it’s the secret to my success. Until now, anyway. With Emilia’s words still ringing in my ears, I picture the number one item on the list: never make a scene.

That thought is enough to bring me back from blind rage to controlled fury. Emilia’s right, I don’t need to humiliate myself any further. I’m going to leave in a dignified way and my head held high.

I school my expression into one of neutrality as Emilia slides a brown envelope over her stupidly white desk and taps it. “In here you’ll find all the info about our offer. Please review it. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.”

I take the manila envelope without opening it.

“I’m sure you did the best you could,” I say. No point in trying to negotiate a better deal. When you get the ax, Évoque Magazine gives you what they deem fair and not a cent more. “Is that all?”

“Yes. It’s understandable if you want to leave before everyone else gets in. A security officer will escort you back to your desk to collect your belongings and will take your security pass on the way out.”

Security, seriously? Are they afraid I’ll steal a Birkin on my way out?

“Very well. Goodbye, Emilia,” I say in the most civil tone I can muster.

Outside the office, a guard is already waiting for me. With a deep breath, I prepare myself for the most humiliating fifteen minutes of my life.

***

“You didn’t get the promotion.” Gerard’s mouth hangs open. “I really wanted you to get it.”

Oh? When did he start caring so much about my career? Being a corporate lawyer, he always seems so focused on his job. But the concern in his eyes is genuine and so sweet.

“Me, too, honey.” I take his hand across the restaurant table. “But I don’t want to ruin our night brooding over my lost job.” I spent the entire day crying, curled in a ball on my couch, and only the prospect of tonight kept me sane.

Gerard looks aghast. “I thought this would be the best day to tell you… that you’d be happy…”

He’s worried my job’s demise is going to ruin his proposal. “You can tell me anything,” I reassure him. “It doesn’t matter what happened at work. We can talk about whatever it is you wanted to discuss.” Or you could just give me the diamond ring and be done with it. “I won’t be sad, I promise.”

Gerard frowns. “I’m afraid you will be.”

“Be what?”

“Sad.”

“Sad?” He has it all wrong. Wedding planning is exactly the kind of distraction I need from the pile of CVs I’ll have to send to find a new job. Right, let’s focus on the half of my life still going according to plan. “Why would I be sad?”

“Blair.” Gerard sighs. “I think we should take a break.”

“A break?”

The talking parrot is making a comeback.

“Yeah, we should see other people.”

“Other people?”

“Yes, I’m not sure we’re compatible.”

I blink. “After three years?”

He nods. “Yes, you’ll agree w—”

I narrow my eyes at him. “Who is she?”

“S-she? There’s no one else,” Gerard stutters defensively.

“Is it Laura?”

After endless arguments about my “unwarranted” jealousy for his secretary, I’m not going to pull any punches.

Gerard shakes his head frantically. “No.”

Still, he dares to deny it.

“You’re lying,” I hiss. “How long have you been screwing her?”

“It’s not like that.” His entire face turns red. “We’re…”

“What? In love?” I scoff. “An affair with your secretary—seriously? You’re such a cliché.”

“Blair, lower your voice. People are staring.”

I sweep the room with my eyes and, indeed, more than a couple of heads have turned our way.

“Am I embarrassing you, Gerard? Is that why you brought me to this nice restaurant to talk, so we’d be in a public space?”

“Blair, we can discuss our problems like the two civil adults we are. There’s no need to make a scene.”

No. Need. To. Make. A. Scene.

My head begins spinning, filled with a whirlwind of memories. My mother admonishing me whenever I threw a tantrum: “Blair, a well-educated young woman should always behave properly. We don’t make public scenes. That’s not what we do.”

I remember the speech my ballet instructor gave me when I didn’t get the lead role in The Swan Lake: “Blair, real ballerinas take setbacks with their heads held high. They don’t make scenes.”

Emilia this morning. Gerard now.

The vortex stops on a clear image of the list’s number one item: never make a scene.

It’s all been for nothing. All the sacrifices I made. All the times I said, “No,” to anything even remotely fun. All the lost opportunities… to live rather than just behave. The list, my secret recipe for success, is worthless. At twenty-nine, what do I have to show for it? Nothing. No job. No boyfriend. Everyone thinks they can walk all over good old Blair because she’s too polite to say anything. No more.

Rage takes over. My fury bubbles up and I vomit years of repressed feelings and self-imposed restraints on Gerard. “A scene? You don’t want me to make a scene?” I get up and throw my napkin on the table. “Well, guess what! You’re out of luck.”

“Blair, don’t—”

“Why?” I scream. “So you can run to your office’s side dish with a clean conscience?”

“Don’t talk about Laura that way. I won’t allow it!”

“Do you prefer boyfriend-stealing bitch?”

Everyone in the room is staring at us now.

Gerard’s ears turn a deeper shade of red. “Blair, please sit down, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

“I’ve nothing to be embarrassed about,” I yell. “I’m not a cheating, lying bastard! Ladies and gentlemen, please give a round of applause for Gerard Wakefield and his mistress, the secretary, Laura.”

A server arrives at our table and stares at us, perplexed. “Spaghetti Marinara?”

In a crazy impulse, I say, “Mine.” I grab the plate and before I know what I’m doing, I tip it over Gerard’s head. “How’s this for a scene, Gerry dear?”

Gerard shoots to his feet, his head, face, and suit dripping marinara. “You crazy bitch!” he shouts, dabbing the sauce off his face with his napkin. “It’s hot sauce! You could’ve blinded me. I’ll sue you for this.”

“Please do,” I shout back. “But be prepared to fight me in court. I’m sure the managing partners at your firm will be thrilled to learn of your extracurricular activities with their employee. They’ll fire you on the spot!”

That shuts him up. Gerard opens and closes his mouth like a gaping fish. To stare at his spaghetti marinara-covered head would almost be funny, if the situation wasn’t so tragic.

With one last glare, I storm out of the restaurant. Utterly lost and with no idea where I’m going, I run outside into the night. Oh, it felt so good to let it all out. Gerard’s spaghetti-splattered head flashes before my eyes again and I can’t help but laugh. A crazy, hysterical, uncontrollable laugh. Not being in control is great. Not holding back is fantastic. I should’ve done it a long time ago. I should’ve done so many things. All my life, I’ve had it backward. I’ve spent years caged behind the bars of the list, never allowing myself a moment of fun. That’s over. The list’s regime ends now.

I fish the page out of its honorific pocket in my bag and do a quick scan of all the taboos there.

“You’re a fraud,” I accuse it. “You’re a useless piece of nonsense.”

Years spent always being good, always being in control, always working hard—and for what? I have nothing.

My first instinct is to tear the sorry piece of paper into a million pieces, but a more powerful, self-destructive impulse takes over. Tearing the list is not enough; I need to completely overthrow it! Each line, each forbiddance, each bit of life I’ve denied myself will be experienced, starting tonight!

I scan all the don’ts in search of something stupid and reckless. My eyes stop on a vicious-looking set of words. I nod. It’s as good a start as any, and I can tackle it right away.

Check out the full tour-
July 13th

Rachel Brimble Romance – Author Q&A

A Beautiful Book Blog – Book Review

Writing Pearls – Book Review

With Love For Books – Book Review

For the Love of Chick Lit – Book Review

July 14th

 

Kristin’s Novel Cafe – Book Excerpt

JenaBooks – Book Review

He Said Books or Me – Author Guest Post

Judging More than Just the Cover – Author Q&A

July 15th

I Heart Fictional People – Book Review

Chrissi Reads – Book Review

Books and Photographs – Book Review

Rebecca Book Review – Book Excerpt

Monique McDonell-Author – Book Excerpt

July 16th

One Book At A Time – Spotlight Post

CosyCuteKnits – Book Review

The Writing Garnet – Book Review

July 17th

The Belgian Reviewer – Book Excerpt

Girl vs Books – Book Review

kraftireader – Book Review

July 18th

Reading Is My SuperPower – Book Review

THE CHLOE DOUGLAS BLOG – Book Review

July 19th
 

Simona’s Corner of Dreams – Author Guest Post

Bookish – Book Review

July 20th

TheBlossomTwins – Book Review

Grass Monster – Book Review

Chick Lit Central – Author Q&A

Living Life with Joy – Author Guest Post

July 21st

ItaPixie’s Book Corner – Book Review

Rae Reads – Book Review

Novelgossip – Book Review

Whispering Stories – Book Review

Ali – The Dragon Slayer – Book Review

A Daydreamer’s Thoughts – Book Review

Steamy Book Momma – Book Excerpt

July 22nd

BookLoverWorm – Book Review

Pretty Little Book Reviews – Book Review

Book Lover in Florida – Book Excerpt

 

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Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker #BlogTour #BookReview #Giveaway

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What’s it about?

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania (population three thousand outside of tourist season).

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed date, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has rescued: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works. For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. There’s an immediate connection, and it’s more electric than the bond of two people who endured a traumatic event. It’s something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something she is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

amazon uk amazon com

Atria Paperback | ISBN: 9781501133381 | On sale: June 27, 2017 | 368 pages | $16.00
Atria eBook | ISBN: 9781501133398 | On sale: June 27, 2017 | 368 pages | $7.99

Giveaway

K.A. Tucker and Simon & Schuster are giving away 5 signed paperback copies of this brand new novel! 

All you have to do is ENTER THE GIVEAWAY HERE

About the author

K.A. Tucker

 

K.A. Tucker is the author of He Will Be My Ruin and the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series. She currently resides outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.

 

Connect with the author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review

star three and a half

I read two novels by K.A. Tucker in the past, and still have fond memories of reading those to this day, so I didn’t have to think twice when I saw an opportunity to read her newest novel Until It Fades. Its promise of some swoonworthy romance was everything I wanted to hear. Her other novels also have plenty of romance but this one definitely is a little different and a bit of a lighter read, she says so herself in the acknowledgements.

The worlds of the two main characters couldn’t be further apart, one of them is constantly in the spotlight and the other tries to avoid all public attention. Catherine was the talk of town at the age of 17, a time she really doesn’t want to be reminded of and she’s quite happy that everyone has moved along and the attention has faded. Agreeing to one (bad) date changes everything though because on her way back home she becomes a witness to a car accident. When she gets home a media storm breaks out because the guy she helped out of the car is a famous hockey-star, Brett Madden. She tries to keep her identity a secret because she really doesn’t want any attention on her person but Brett is determined to find the woman who saved him. When he does, he finds more than he was looking for. But will this fairytale stay or will it fade?

I really liked Catherine, besides from being a heroine, she’s such a strong person in general and I enjoyed reading about her past, it was given a lot of attention and made me really get to know where she was was coming from. She’s not had an easy life but she’s positive and she made it all by herself. I really liked Brett as well, he’s rich, very rich but stays grounded and he’s considerate, caring and of course very yummy, but the person I liked perhaps most of all was Brenna. She’s a feisty 6-year old who always knows the right things to say and holds more wisdom in her little body than you could imagine.

This novel was definitely a slow-burn in the romance department but I wouldn’t necessary call it a bad thing that Catherine took her time. With all that she’s been through it would only be odd if she were to jump right in. She has learned to protect her heart and you can’t just let your guard down after someone’s giving you a few crooked smiles, right?

This novel is most of all about a girl who has learned a lot already in her young life and is trying to trust people again, it’s about how deep her family and friendship ties run in the end, it’s heart-warming and a fun read. Maybe, and this is just the smallest remark, I might have missed a little more drama and a few surprises along the way. There was one intended twist but I knew how that was going to play out right from the start really. I was really curious though what the consequences would be when this would have to be explained but as I said, there’s a lot of love and friendship to go round in this one.

This was a sweet and lovely story, maybe a tad less memorable than her other novels, but with the same easy and enjoyable writing and a cast of lovely characters that are her signature style.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Single-Minded by Lisa Daily #BlogTour #QandA

I’m excited to be on the blog tour today for Single-Minded, a wonderful funny and heart-warming romance novel! I’m sharing today with Kristin @Kristin’s Novel Café who is sharing an excerpt so go and take a look at hers too!

If you want to know the name of the novel Lisa Daily wishes she had written herself, do read on!

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Title: Single-Minded
Author: Lisa Daily
Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Tour Dates: June 27th – July 4th, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Women’s Fiction

Alex has planned and executed her life with laser focus since she first met her future husband at the play-doh table on the first day of kindergarten. They have a terrific life, a gorgeous house on the bay, and fantastic careers they love. There’s only one problem: Alex’s husband Michael is gay, a fact he neglected to mention in the 23 years since they first met.

Now, Alex’s perfectly planned life has completely fallen apart, her biological clock is starting to feel like the timer on a nuclear device, and she finds herself drooling over her completely-dreamy-but-definitely-off-limits client, a star chef opening a hot new restaurant. Armed with dating guidance from her oddball collection of advisers—including her gay ex-husband, a foul-mouthed political consultant, a perkily masochistic yogi, and a pot-smoking octogenarian—Alex navigates the booby-trapped world of modern dating, in her search for a second chance at love.

Buy the Book:

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