Book Review: A Will and a Way by Maggie Wells

A Will and a WayA Will and a Way by Maggie Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author Maggie Wells has a way with words. Her latest release, A Will and a Way, is no exception to the quality I’ve come to expect from her.

What I love about a Maggie Wells hero is his vulnerability. The chink in his armor. That brief flicker of insecurity or flash of doubt that reveals his humanity. In this title, for example, Will believes in fate (a refreshing character trait to find in a hero), but that doesn’t mean the object of his affection will necessarily reciprocate.

Cue Betty in her puffy coat—a style that has cycled back into favor recently, much like Betty’s own sense of self-worth.

What follows is a liberating storyline of self-discovery on the heroine’s part, which translates into finally standing up for what she wants out of life.

A change of scenery.
Holding her wandering, entitled son to a higher standard.
And, last but not least, a sexual awakening.

Cue Will in his “waffle-weave Henley.”

The dance between these two is nothing short of fun, feisty, and flaming hot. Elements such as quick-witted banter, a local nun, and office-place improprieties ramp up the title’s already unique “seasoned romance” aspect even further. As Will and Betty illustrate, vibrancy and romance have a place in all seasons of life, and it was a joy as a reader to be along for the ride.

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Book Review: Hard Silence by Mia Kay

Hard Silence (Agents Undercover #2)Hard Silence by Mia Kay

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rich characters and a compelling plot make Hard Silence a must-read for fans of romantic suspense!

Main characters Jeff and Abby will take readers on a wild, yet tender, ride. Although I didn’t remember either of them from Soft Target (it’d been a while since I read it), the duo rose to the challenge of being the manuscript’s front and center. Weeks since reading, and their story still resonates with me.

As much as I liked Jeff, Abby’s storyline is the real feature here. Daughter of a toxic mother, Abby suffers ongoing recriminations due to events beyond her control. Fear and guilt affect her ability to form new, trusting, and lasting relationships—an element of her character that made perfect sense to me considering her back story. As one with a soft spot for shelter animals, Abby’s fondness for rehabbing neglected pets won me over fairly early on. She’s a likable, selfless, and hard-working heroine.

Jeff is steady, considerate, and curious—the latter a valuable quality in his job as an FBI profiler. Nevertheless, his interest in temporary neighbor Abby goes beyond mere professional curiosity.

And when the personal and professional overlap? Well, that’s where action and emotion ramp up!

• The flickers of jealousy between the two MCs were fun for me. Even though there’s some serious stuff going on, these flashes of insecurity revealed their emotional vulnerability.
• I loved reading and learning about the villain. Hadn’t read anything quite like that before.
• Although Gray and Maggie, protagonists from Soft Target, made brief cameos in this installment of Agents Undercover, as secondary characters they didn’t overpower the narrative (which is one of my pet peeves in series with interconnected characters).

Loved it! Fresh elements and relatable, likable characters made Hard Silence a page-turner for me. For readers who like a side of sweet with their suspense, Mia Kay’s latest deserves a spot on your TBR.

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Book Review: Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid

Grin and Beard It (Winston Brothers, #2)Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Penny Reid is one of my go-to, one-click authors–a well-deserved distinction that only grows stronger with each new release. (I should also clarify up front that I am not on the author’s ARCs list, although I wish I were! All of her titles that I’ve read, I have bought.)

Jethro and Sienna’s is a fun, unpredictable ride. Below is a jumbled mess of what I liked about it:

I loved what Jethro did behind the scenes to make Sienna’s stay more comfortable.

As usual, Cletus’s presence serves more than one purpose: voice of reason, comic relief, and also a little mystery (referring to his hold over their father). His character grows more complex with each new “Winston Brothers” installment, and I’ve enjoyed experiencing each new layer.

Also as usual, I loved seeing flashes of previous MCs (Drew, Ashley, Jessica, & Duane).

Being in Sienna’s head was fun since she’s a comedian/actress; I kept envisioning the spirit and spunk of of Melissa McCarthy.

Jethro’s past, specifically his once-role in the motorcycle club, was interesting to read about. His perspective on righting wrongs is both admirable and impossibly rigid. That being said, what I like most about him in his current life stage are his integrity, sense of honor, and selflessness.

Grin and Beard It is a light-hearted and sweet affair seasoned with (mostly) well-meaning siblings, stubborn past sins, and the prying eyes of the public–all set against a rural Tennessee backdrop.

If you haven’t yet gotten invested in the Winston family, now’s the time to start!

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Book Review: From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne

From This Day Forward (The Wedding Belles, #0.5)From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A quick, satisfying novella, From This Day Forward is the perfect launch pad for Layne’s upcoming Wedding Belles series. Not surprisingly, the wedding industry is a fitting “venue” for the theme of finding—and fostering—forevers.

A grand misunderstanding and subsequent fallout set the stage for the mix of anger and lust between photographers Jason and Leah. A vital part of the wedding industry, the two are thrust together again by cancellations, a high-profile family, and one well-meaning friend.

Much to Leah’s chagrin.

High on the steam scale, From This Day Forward offers a complete story while also introducing secondary characters Alexis and Heather. Strong, spitfire women with a head for business and genuine concern for their mutual friend’s happily ever after? Yes, please!

As far as I’m concerned, Layne’s skill at writing and storytelling is unparalleled in the romance genre. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with for the rest of this series!

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Book Review: Tailored for Trouble by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

Tailored for Trouble (Happy Pants, #1)Tailored for Trouble by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wish I could remember who recommended this author to me because I would bow down and kiss that person’s feet.

I like to think I’m a funny person. That being said, I can’t hold a candle to Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. Tailored for Trouble, specifically the voice of heroine Taylor Reed, had me laughing my “happy pants” off all the way through!

Bennett Wade, a surly billionaire, is the the kind of guy who keeps bystanders guessing. Tolerable one minute and abrasive the next, Bennett’s push and pull routine will puzzle readers at the outset: Which is the façade, and what lies underneath it?

Nevertheless, Bennett meets his match in Taylor, a self-motivated human resources specialist who refuses to be steamrolled by Bennett’s demanding, unyielding demeanor. Regardless how handsome and fit and broody the hero is—(characteristics that I, as a reader, happen to love)—Taylor’s transparency and natural tendency toward humor stole the show for me. She’s the type of heroine I really admire: real and confident, the “what you see is what you get” type.

This novel comprises an exciting series of events, many of which caught me completely by surprise. Both main characters are well-developed, with thoughtful back stories that endow the novel with depth and contextualize the characters’ actions. Their banter, and the resulting inside jokes, made this a fun and memorable reading experience.

Along with the main characters, two secondary characters landed a special place in my heart as well: Bennett’s mother and Taylor’s brother Jack. Their spunk, commentary, and occasional intervention added yet another layer of depth and complexity to Tailored for Trouble.

If you can’t already tell, I’m swooning over this book! (I’m also lamenting the fact that I don’t know what to read next because anything else HAS to be a step down in comparison.) Tailored for Trouble is DEFINITELY worth a read…and then a re-read!

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Book Review: Good Girl by Lauren Layne

Good Girl (Love Unexpectedly, #2)Good Girl by Lauren Layne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved everything about Good Girl: the push and pull between its main characters, a fun and compelling secondary character (Finn), authentic sounding dialogue, Noah’s back story, Jenny’s occupation, and conflict in the form of unfounded rumors and one clingy, deluded ex.

Ultimately, Layne’s latest is the story of twenty-something characters discovering what they want out of life. Learning what it is that gives them a sense of purpose, and that reconciling one’s lifelong dream with another’s doesn’t mean either has to be given up.

Jenny Dawson is a country music singer who loves creating music, but doesn’t love the collateral damage that comes with being in the limelight. I loved reading about how specific experiences and even locations triggered her inspiration and creativity; I found her naiveté and innocence regarding other matters to be endearing.

Noah…well, he was a bit tougher to like. He had a chip on his shoulder that, while understandable and justified, made him come off as prickly. He dislikes Jenny on principle, based entirely what he assumes to be true about her. And because that image conflicts with his instant attraction to her, Noah does and says things that make him look like a grade-A jerk.

Nevertheless, Jenny sees the good in him that I, for one, wouldn’t have been able to. And that’s what made the read a deliciously complex one for me: waiting for the moment their existing dynamic—the one where he acts out and she forgives—wouldn’t work anymore.

On that note, the novel’s climax is perfect, a collision of both characters’ ultimate hang-ups/fears.

If you’re looking for a fresh new adult read, look no further! In addition to well-developed, believable characters, Good Girl has scorching chemistry and the perfect level of conflict and tension for the scope of its pages. Although the book can easily be devoured in one sitting, beware…because then there’s the problem of waiting on the next LL book to release. 😉

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Mother’s Day Blog Hop

Mother's Day Hop

From Friday, May 6th at 12:30am EST until Monday, May 9th at 12pm EST, 133 authors and blogs have come together to offer prizes on every page PLUS the chance to win part of the grand prize through the giveaway below.

Don’t miss out! Visit one, or all to participate. Easy entries.

Meet some new authors! Discover some awesome blogs.

Most of all…have fun!

The Mother’s Day Hop Starts Here:

Epilogue Book Blog FB page


Book Review: Free of Malice by Liz Lazarus

Free of MaliceFree of Malice by Liz Lazarus

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars!

“Well-researched” is the term that comes to mind when I reflect on Free of Malice. While reading, I learned much about legal, mental health professional, and law enforcement approaches to assault and self-defense. Interestingly enough, the thriller explores vicitms’ rights and where those rights intersect and/or conflict with an attacker’s rights—and those of any innocent bystanders. As one character expressly communicates, the issue isn’t as cut and dried as one might think. And it’s certainly not like what’s represented on procedural TV shows.

From start to finish, Free of Malice impressed me. Its plot wasn’t quite what I expected from a book of this genre. As such, the premise felt very unique: more intellectual and methodical than action-packed. Frankly, I relished the change of pace; both content and theme gave me a lot to think about.

Conflict and tension are at an all-time high in Free of Malice as everyone becomes a suspect. Add in a likeable, smart main character and probing questions that keep readers turning pages, and the result is a well-rounded novel with real staying power.

So, if you’re in the mood for a thoughtful read with the “whodunit” factor, be sure to put this one on your TBR!

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Book Review: Cuff Me by Lauren Layne

Cuff Me (New York's Finest, #3)Cuff Me by Lauren Layne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lauren Layne is a master of so many things when it comes to writing and fiction—sexual tension and internal conflict, specifically. Pretty sure she knows her characters better than I know myself, and that level of familiarity comes through in her writing, making it BEYOND SPECTACULAR in my opinion.

In Cuff Me, two partners (as in police officers) gradually realize their growing feelings for one another. I say gradually because it’s literally been a years-long process. That being said, I wouldn’t quite label it “friends to lovers”—at least not as clearly as one of Layne’s other titles, Blurred Lines.

Gosh, I loved Vin. He had the broody, almost-bad-boy thing going for him (one of my favorite qualities in a hero), with his trademark leather jacket and surly demeanor. BUT he isn’t an asshole…at least not a total one. Instead, he’s the best of both worlds: gruff when he needs to be (i.e. when his job requires it), but sentimental and considerate—in his own way—when it comes to showing Jill he cares. Jill’s great too, don’t get me wrong. As a reader, I’m just all about the hero. 😉

Threaded through the romance is the case our MCs are trying to solve: the murder of an elderly actress. I like the way LL weaves the two together, so that as the officers make discoveries in the case, they make similar discoveries about their own evolving relationship.

As to conflict, there was one element at play I wasn’t sure I’d like. But leave it to LL to prove me wrong!

As my first read in the series, I got a huge dose of the Moretti family and loved every second of it. (Although the two previous love stories are alluded to, I had no problem reading Cuff Me as a standalone.) Nonna is hilarious, and the brothers’ light-hearted bickering only added to the novel’s underlying humor.

One final question for fellow Cuff Me readers. Not really a spoiler, but I’m marking it as one just in case: (view spoiler)

Lauren Layne has a real gift for delving into why characters make the decisions they do. Right after finishing this novel, I thought to myself: If I could find something else like Cuff Me to read—matching it element for element, but a new story—I’d dive right in.

Or, maybe an even better way of saying it is, I’d read Lauren Layne on loop.

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Cover Reveal & Excerpt: Race the Darkness by Abbie Roads

It’s precisely 7:22 pm ET, the sun has just set in the Eastern Time zone, and it’s starting to get dark.

We are excited to reveal the cover of Race the Darkness, a dark, gritty, emotional and sexy romantic suspense novel by debut author Abbie Roads!

Race the Darkness


First in a gripping paranormal romantic suspense duo by a Golden Heart finalist debut author whose clinical work gives her chilling insights…

Cursed with a terrible gift
Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn’t have to question you—he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night—the voice of a woman begging him to save her.

That threatens to engulf them…
Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except…there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.


About Abbie Roads

Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark, emotional novels, always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. Her novels have finaled in RWA contests including the Golden Heart. Race the Darkness is the first book in the Fatal Dreams series of dark, gritty romantic suspense with a psychological twist.


Race the Darkness will be available on October 4th

A special note from the author

Dear Readers,

I wrote Race the Darkness from start to finish three different times, with three different story lines, and with three different titles! The only thing that ever remained the same between the versions was Xander and Isleen. I believed in them and the story they wanted to tell. I hope you love reading about their tragedies and triumphs as much as I enjoyed writing them… All three times! And isn’t the cover amazing, beautiful, gorgeous? I cried the first time I saw it! It made all the hard work to get this book to you worth it!

Abbie Roads

An excerpt from Race the Darkness

No fucking way was he going to die running. He stopped, turned and faced the truck barreling toward them. The tires ate up the ground at an indecent rate. He clutched Isleen tighter to his chest. For her sake, he wanted it to be a quick death. No more lingering. No more pain.

That thought infuriated him. None of this was right. They shouldn’t be on the verge of death. Again.

The truck kept coming—twenty-five feet.

Everything slowed, happened as if through the quicksand of time. A white dandelion floaty meandered on the breeze directly between them and the truck. His heart no longer ran a staccato rhythm. Duh…duhm. Pause. Duh…duhm. Pause.

His life didn’t flash before his eyes. The future did. Isleen’s future. In an ethereal dream beyond time, her skin was gilded by firelight, her eyes void of sadness and fear, her body whole and healthy. She smiled, an expression so full of warmth and tenderness and undiluted joy that it plunked itself down inside his heart and wouldn’t leave.

He ached to create that kind of smile on her face, but their lives were over and it all could’ve gone so differently if he’d only listened to her, believed in her, found her years before now.


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