Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Soap Dreams by Stephanie Haefner

Soap Dreams by Stephanie Haefner

Soap Dreams by Stephanie Haefner

It’s never too late to start over.
Robyn Miller is perfectly happy in her immaculate home, playing stay-at-home mom and devoted wife. That is, until she’s channel surfing one day and sees her high school sweetheart Derek, acting in a lead role in her favorite old soap. Watching Derek’s show becomes her secret pleasure…and brings back memories best forgotten. When Derek’s mother throws him a big celebration in town, Robyn tries to avoid seeing him, but ends up in his arms for a dance.

Derek has finally hit the big-time, but he hasn’t found happiness. He regrets losing Robyn, and his show’s ratings are falling. He longs to get her back in his life–both personally, and as a writer on the show. Those love scenes she used to dream up were Emmy material. Knowing her marriage is a sham, can he convince her to follow her dreams and give the show–and him–a shot?
A Lyrical Press Contemporary Romance

Sarah's Review:

I recently became aware of a few WNY authors thanks to connecting with other WNY authors.  I decided to read this one because it was short and something that caught my attention.  It took me a couple days longer than I thought it would to actually read it because of Memorial Day weekend plans.  I finally had the chance to finish it this morning (5/29/13).  

 I enjoyed reading romances that reconnect high school loves.  When we are kids in high school and preparing to go off to college, we do stupid things and make stupid decisions.  I love seeing the couple get a second chance.  This story gives us that plus more. 

I loved Robyn's strength when she finally decided follow her dreams.  I love that she stood up to her scum of a husband (I really didn't like him) and told him that she wanted a divorce.  I love that she had her best friend that help encourage her to follow her dreams, even when she didn't at first because of Derek. 

Derek is a local boy turned daytime actor.  Derek returns home to convince Robyn to come to NY and write for his show since the writers haven't been doing a good job.  I loved that Derek didn't give up on convincing Robyn to follow her dreams. 

I enjoyed reading this little story!  I will be reading more by Stephanie Haefner as soon as I get a break with school! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


For the months of June and July, I am going to be slow on the reviews because I have to put my academic work first.  So my pleasure reading will be very limited.  I am hoping for one a week though.  There are 3 ARC reviews that will go live on their release day.

If you want to do guest posts, you are more than welcome to.  Please email me or send me a message on Facebook.  If you want to spread the word about your stories, I am more than happy to give you the opportunity on this blog.  You want to do a random post, do it.  I don't really have any rules. 

If you want to do a guest review, you are more than welcome to.  Please email me or send me a message on Facebook.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day is a solemn day for the United States.  How people chose to honor Memorial Day varies.  As for my family, we have picnics while we tell stories of those that we have lost as a result of their service.  I found the poem below when I was looking for Memorial Day images that were fitting.   

May God be with those families that are mourning a loved one that has lost their life in service of this great country. 

When I'm Gone

- Mrs. Lyman Hancock

When I come to the end of my journey
And I travel my last weary mile,
Just forget if you can, that I ever frowned
And remember only the smile.

Forget unkind words I have spoken;
Remember some good I have done.
Forget that I ever had heartache
And remember I've had loads of fun.

Forget that I've stumbled and blundered
And sometimes fell by the way.
Remember I have fought some hard battles
And won, ere the close of the day.

Then forget to grieve for my going,
I would not have you sad for a day,
But in summer just gather some flowers
And remember the place where I lay,

And come in the shade of evening
When the sun paints the sky in the west
Stand for a few moments beside me
And remember only my best.
Poem found HERE


Friday, May 24, 2013

RELEASE DAY: What Part of Marine Don't You Understand? (Always a Marine #12)

What Part of Marine Don’t You Understand

HL_What Part of Marine_SMWhat Part of Marine Don’t You Understand
Always a Marine #12
Challenge Series
Purchase Now:
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Decadent Publishing
Diesel Books

What Part of Marine Don’t You Understand?
Matt McCall’s struggles to reintegrate into civilian life have been an ongoing battle for the better part of two years. Daily group sessions and weekly one-on-ones have only allowed him to grow so far. Twice he’s returned to his home state of Ohio and twice, he retreated to Mike’s Place. Uncertain of where he belongs in the world, he battles depression silently. The unexpected gift of a black Labrador retriever perks his spirit…and a chance meeting in the park gives him a precious gift…

Aspiring country singer Naomi Sparks comes from a long line of Marines, she knows all about sacrifice and struggle. When her brother asks her to visit to Mike’s Place on his behalf, she discovers a real opportunity to make a difference. Matt McCall inspires her with the real challenge of discovering love and daring heroes who takes risks.  Writing music has never been so sweet…

Can one woman who believes in him really heal the wounds in this Marine’s heart?

HL_What Part of Marine_Banner
“We have to talk about what happened. You have to remember and not relive it.”

“I’m not reliving it.” Am I? The bitter taste in his mouth burned his tongue. Shouts echoed in the hallway. Feet thundered past. He jerked to his feet and started forward three steps. Jethro butted against him and he stopped. Disoriented, he felt the leash rub against the cuts on his knuckles—and he looked at James.

No feet echoed in the hallway. He wasn’t in Iraq. He was in Allen, Texas.

“Holy hell on a biscuit.” He sat down before he fell down and Jethro shoved his head under Matt’s hand.  He couldn’t make it stop.  “How do I make it stop?”

“Breathe, Matt. Look at Jethro. He knows you’re upset. Breathe.” If only James’ calmness could flow from the psychologist to him. It was like Matt could hear the words, but he couldn’t quite process them. “You haven’t hurt anyone and you haven’t hurt yourself.”

“Why does my mouth taste like ass?” Sweat trickled down the back of his neck. Oxygen burned in his chest with every breath he took.

“That’s the adrenaline. You got upset. You remembered and you were there. The bitter taste is adrenaline.”

“I’m getting short-changed here.” Amusement and disbelief warred against the craziness swirling inside him.

“No, it’s normal. With a lot of veterans, you start cooking and after a while, you can’t stop it anymore—that’s when you snap. You keep bringing yourself up to the boil and then backing off in full retreat.”

“What gets me cooking?” And why hadn’t they talked like this before? The blood pounding in his skull eased and his heart stopped trying to pound its way out of his chest.

“With veterans it can be a car backfiring, a twig snapping, or a box dropping off a shelf. The sudden, explosive noise reminds them of…”

“Gunshots.” That made sense. He could actually wrap his mind around that.

“But that’s not what sets you off.”

“So what is it?”

“I know this will sound like I’m telling you that five plus five equals a pile of hay, but it’s people yelling or laughing or running. Large movements of people. It’s what set you off in the bar. It’s why you didn’t stick it out at Damon’s restaurant. It’s why going home…”

 Sarah's Review:
I am completely biased with this review and wanted to disclose that immediately.  I have wanted Matt's story for a while.  Many times I told Heather that Matt had many different stories playing out in my head and I wanted to see how she did it.  She didn't disappoint either.  As a matter of fact, the morning that I finish this story, I sent Heather these messages on Facebook (condensed to one message):  
So I tried really hard to finish last night, but I made it 62 percent through and finished this morning.  You know my love for Matt and I think this story was absolutely PERFECT!! I was sobbing reading the first chapter though.   I always told you that it would take the right woman to knock Matt on his ass and Naomi was perfect! I am biased of course because Matt has been in my head for so long, but I think it was down right amazing. Jethro though.............way too perfect.
Those messages are still how I feel.  I truly believe that this story was PERFECT for Matt.  We were introduced to Matt in Tell It to the Marine (Always a Marine 3) and Matt has appeared in a few other books, so Matt stayed with me.  I believe that Matt stayed with me because of my career choice to become a Social Worker that truly wants to work with Veterans.   

Matt returns to Mike's Place after he returned home to his family and couldn't handle it.  He returned to get the help and James realized that Matt was finally ready to begin dealing with his trauma and begin to heal.  The opening chapter had me sobbing huge tears and I almost put it down because I didn't want to read what could have happened.  I didn't because I knew that Heather could have done that a while ago and wouldn't torture us like that.     

Naomi comes to Mike's Place on her brother's behalf.  She is a musician that is preparing to record an album and finds herself on the path that Matt takes when he is running/walking.  When Matt and Naomi cross paths, she is writing songs for her album and captures Matt's attention.  Naomi comes from a family of Marines and she begins to pick up on things that Matt is experiencing.  

We meet a very special character in this story that we haven't met before.  Jethro is our newest character and probably the cutest and quietest.  You see, Jethro is Matt's service dog.  Matt doesn't realize for a bit that Jethro is really his and not watching over him for someone else.  James told Matt when he finally asked him about Jethro that he wasn't ready to hear it and accept it.  

We see Matt make so much progress in this story and while Naomi was part of it, Matt was able to recognize things that he needed to work on himself and did it.  I love a few things that Matt did on his own and stood by his decision.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

NONFICTION REVIEW: To Iraq and Back by Jessica Scott

To Iraq and Back
December 10, 2012
Publication Riot Group Creatives
Jessica Scott
Amazon link 

Book Info:
In 2009, Army second lieutenant Jessica Scott deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

It was a year of many firsts.

This is the first person journey through a combat tour in Iraq, through being a woman in the army and learning to be an officer in the unforgiving environment of a brigade combat team.

This is the journey of a writer, learning to find her voice.
This is the journey of a mother, confronting the emotions of leaving her children.
This is the story of an inexperienced lieutenant, growing into a leader. This is the journey as it happened, without commentary.

This is her blog. There are many blogs from the Iraq war, but this one is hers.

Sarah's Review:  
 I have been trying to figure out how to review this book for three weeks and I am going to struggle with it, but I NEED to write it.   I have been wanting to read this story for a while now, but didn't get a chance to because of Graduate School.  I am a huge supporter of the United States Military.

Please note: This story is JESSICA SCOTT's story and it is HER views. It is raw. It is emotional.  It is real.  

This book took me 3 days to read with my work schedule and I could read in short time frames because of the emotions.  I loved seeing her POV on being a woman who was in power, a woman in the military, leaving her daughters with her mom, and a writer in the making.   I love that she was brutally honest in many of the blogs.  I love that she didn't sugar coat things, but she also explained some things that non military people could understand when needed. 

I have a huge level of respect of our military and I don't tolerate people degraded our service members. Yes, there are a few bad apples in every bunch, but that doesn't mean that every soldier is bad.  While there will be people that will be disrespectful of our military, I won't tolerate it and will stand up with them.  

I know this review is very vague and I can't do it any other way.  If you support our service members, read this book.  If you want to read what it is like for a woman, read this book.  

Her follow-up book, The Long Way Home, is her experiences coming home and readjusting back to being a mother, wife, and soldier.  I haven't read it yet, but I will once summer session is over.  Probably in August.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Indulging the Professor (Pleasure Inn Series 2)

Indulging the Professor

A  Pleasure Inn Series Steamy Short.
Featuring  Logan  and  Elyse  from  Master  of  The  Inn.
Meet the first guests to stay at Pleasure Inn…
Where all of your fantasies become reality.
Professor Marcus Santos has become unsatisfied in his life.  His  career  is  at  an  all  time  high  but  he  has  no  one  to  share  it  with.  He’s  buried  himself  in  his  work  for  so  long  he’s  missed  out  on  a  social  life.  His  policy  of  not  dating  university  students  has  limited  his  search  to  find  the  perfect  girlfriend.  While  out  at  a  bar  one  night  he  runs  into  his  intriguing  research  assistant.  Their brief encounter changes the dynamics of their relationship.
Shy  graduate  student  Jacqueline  Kincaid  has  been  taken  with  Professor  Santos  since  her  freshman  year.  His  charismatic  personality  and  driven  work  ethic  drew  her  to  him,  but  now  that  she’s  getting  to  know  him  on  a  personal  level  she  can’t  get  him  out  of  her  head.  He  shows  interest  in  her  but  won’t  take  things  further  than  kissing.
Marcus offers her a special graduation present.  Spend two nights at Pleasure Inn with him.  Jacqueline  jumps  at  the  chance  to  move  forward  in  their  new  relationship.  Now  that  she’s  no  longer  his  student  he  wants  more  with  her.  Pleasure  Inn  is  just  the  place  to  make  all  of  their  fantasies  reality.

Jacqueline stood at the large picture window. Coming up behind her, Marcus wrapped his arms around her waist and took in the sweet aroma of her hair. He loved the way her fragrance lingered in his car or office hours after they had parted. Her signature smell was a constant reminder of her and the memory of it had gotten him through some long, sleepless nights these past couple of months.

“You smell so good.” He moved her hair to the side and trailed his lips along her neck. He’d always been so careful with her. He never wanted to overstep or make her feel uncomfortable. Her decision to spend the weekend with him had changed things. He couldn’t seem to keep his hands off her.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to touch you like this.” Their casual dates and late night research sessions were getting harder to deal with. Each time he took her back to her apartment he’d prayed for her to invite him in. He often wondered if he would accept. She seemed to quietly respect his position on the subject of dating students. Always letting him take the lead, she never pushed him further than he was willing to go. He appreciated that, but he had to find a way to make her see just how much she meant to him.
“What took you so long, Professor?” She leaned her head back offering him more of her neck. “I was beginning to think it was me.”
“Never.” He gripped her hips before slipping his hands under the thin material of her t-shirt. “I have rules. At least, I did before I met you.” He circled his fingertips along the soft skin of her stomach. “I don’t like to create chaos.”
“Is that what I am?” She placed her hands over his and guided them to her breasts. His palms grazed her hardened nipples. “Chaotic?”
Her boldness surprised him but didn’t stop him from cupping her full breasts in his hands. “Now that you’re no longer my student…” He swirled his thumbs over her aroused nipples. “I’ll create as much chaos with you as you can handle.”
She turned to face him, his hands still caressing her nipples through the lace of her bra. Leaning closer to him, she brushed her lips along his jaw as she threaded her fingers through his hair. “I want more.”
“You’ll have it.” He removed his hands from underneath her shirt. “I promise.”

***All books in the Pleasure Inn series stand alone but if you’d like to see how it all began check out Master of the Inn.

Sarah's Review: 

Let me begin with suggesting that you read Master of the Inn first.  It sets the scene for future stories. Another thing that should be mentioned is that this a a novella, so you should be able to read relatively quick.  I read it in about an hour, maybe 90 minutes since I was getting dinner ready at the same time.

Without giving too much of the story away, I enjoyed reading how the Professor began to see the student in a different light.  I thought the flashbacks from Marcos and Jacqueline added to the story.  I enjoyed seeing Logan and Elyse again.   

I loved seeing Marcos tell Jacqueline how she threw him for a loop but now that she has graduated, he feels that he can pursue a relationship with her.  Marcos had great control in keeping his rules in place while Jacqueline was a student and his research assistant.  I loved seeing Jacqueline cross that line from student to lover with Marcos.  I loved seeing her come out of the shell that she was showing in the beginning.

These two are a sweet couple that I hope we get to see again.  It was nice to see a snippet into Logan and Elyse's lives as well.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Combat Barbie (Always a Marine #11)

Combat Barbie

This is the eleventh installment in the Always a Marine anthology. It is also the first in the Women in Uniform series.

HL_Combat barbie_SMCombat Barbie
Always a Marine #11
Women in Uniform #1
Purchase Now:
All Romance eBooks
Barnes and Noble
Decadent Publishing
The high school beauty queen…

The face of baby food, the darling of surfing commercials, and the exotic stunner who walked away with the Miss California title at eighteen, Mary Phillips has heard “you’re so beautiful” from childhood on. Tired of being her mother’s personal Barbie, she traded in her tiara and a lucrative modeling contract for combat boots and life as a Marine. She’s lost good friends and seen more walking wounded than she cares to admit, but this Marine wouldn’t trade her assignment for all the Manolo Blahniks in the world. What does it matter she has no one waiting at home?

The class nerd…

Kyle Stewart heard every variation as he went through school: nerd, geek, four-eyes, weirdo—and he rolled with it. He could count on one hand the number of girls who ever deigned to talk to him about something other than tutoring. But as the only self-made millionaire from his graduating class, he has the last laugh.

A high school reunion…

Despite the invitation, Mary didn’t plan to attend the ten-year reunion. The last thing she wanted to hear was—”you could have been so much, what happened?” But running into Kyle at the local coffee shop reminds her that not everyone judges by appearance. Kyle once swore to rub his former tormentors noses in his success, but when the reunion rolls around, he’s reluctant to go. Seeing Mary again encourages him to confront his one lingering regret, and the millionaire dares to reach for happiness.

Can Combat Barbie and her nerd overcome the past to love another day?

HL_Combat barbie_banner
Blegh, what was I thinking? I should have just gone to see Jazz. Who cares about her honeymoon, she can sex up her hot husbands anytime she wants. Husbands—Stormer snickered. She wasn’t sure which was harder to believe, that the tough gunny got married or that she married two men? Ahead of her the line moved and a tall, lean guy with a thatch of thick black hair brushing his neck and a rumpled look that cried just rolled out of bed stepped to the side and leaned against the counter—clearly to wait for his order.

He glanced back at her and she gave him a quick, polite smile as their gazes collided. She shouldn’t be staring—or judging. Just because the man wore a polo and khakis and looked ready to walk out to the golf course at seven a.m. on a week day didn’t make him a lazy bastard or wealthy dilettante. Hell, she was jogging in an exclusive section the city and about to order a cup of eight dollar coffee just for the thrill of it.

Gaze skating over him again, she found him checking her out. He stared at her hard, the tiniest of frowns wrinkling his brow. Lifting her eyebrows in challenge, she waited for him to look away. But he didn’t. Thumbing her music off, she pulled out the earbuds to ask what the hell his problem was, but it was her turn.

“What can I get you ma’am?” The barista smiled cheerfully.

“Double tall pumpkin spice latte, with extra foam.” She pulled a credit card out of her back pocket and slid it across. Despite having received his drink, her gawker still stood at the counter when she walked around to wait.

And he still stared.

Maybe it was years in the field or maybe it was just her sour mood after the argument with her mother the night before, but she wasn’t in the mood for some stranger undressing her with his eyes. She whistled between her teeth. “My eyes are up here.”

He glanced up and an amused grin curved his lips. “I know. I was trying to see if you had a tattoo.”

“Is that some new form of pick up line?” Damn, she must be rustier than she thought if she didn’t know what the latest was. But then, this was California and her last trip home hadn’t included any kind of dating or introductions. It was a funeral for her grandmother and then back to base she went and off to deployment. She hadn’t spent seventy two hours straight in the state since she enlisted.

“No.” He shook his head and laughed. The barista called out her order and slid the coffee cup over. She claimed it and gave him a half salute.

“Have a good one.” She turned to head out, but rather than accepting the brush off he followed her and grabbed the door.

“Sorry, not trying to go stalker creepy on you, but you remind me of someone I used to know—hence looking for the tattoo.”

The unabashed flirt rolled over her and she tipped her head back. If this guy thought she was an easy mark, she couldn’t wait to disappoint him…still, the longer she stared at him the more familiar he seemed. He wasn’t a Marine. His hair was too long for one and he didn’t carry himself that way. So why did it feel like she recognized him?  “What kind of tattoo?”

“A purple butterfly—it was on her calf, just behind her right ankle—tiny, delicate thing. I used to think it was a fairy, but it wasn’t. Just a butterfly.” He cut himself off, perhaps realizing he’d gone to unnecessary length.

“I used to wear one when I was in high school, but it was a press on. I had hundreds of them. If I’d gotten real ink, my mother would have had a coronary.” High school. “Kyle?”

Sarah's Review:

We get to see Mary, AKA Stormer, who we met in No Regrets, No Surrender (Always a Marine 6), again and see a different side of her.   She returns home for leave before she heads to see Jazz in Texas.  While she is out running one morning, she runs into Kyle, who she went to high school with.  They catch up over coffee and then make plans to meet up again. 

I love that Mary was confident with herself to let Kyle know that being a Marine is who she is and that wouldn't change.  I admire Mary's strength and courage to fight against her mother's wishes of her being a beauty queen to become who she really was.  I love that she was still worried about Jazz and how much their friendship means to her could be seen during the phone calls.  

I love that Kyle accepted Mary for who she was in high school and who she is now, not just what she looked like.   I had to giggle when Kyle was telling Mary the story about how he found out he had made a million dollars.  Really, how does someone not know that they made a million dollars?  I love that Kyle found a way to give back to his mom and his still trying.  

This story left me with a few questions though: 
What were Mary's orders?  What does Kyle have planned with his money?  How do Mary and Kyle handle Mary's orders and possible separation?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Always a Marine #10)

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

The tenth installment in the Always a Marine series. It is part of The Challenge Series. A new series from Decadent Publishing.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Always A Marine #10
The Challenge Series
Purchase Now:NOR_reviewertoppick2
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble
Decadent Publishing
Have you ever woken up every day afraid of everything?
For single mom and widow Melody Carter, six months passed since an IED ripped her life apart. Everyone is sympathetic and offers platitudes of comfort and support. Everyone thinks they know why she’s grieving but Melody isn’t mourning her broken heart. She’s ashamed to be grateful her abusive husband won’t hurt her anymore and scared for her child. Born with a mild heart defect, her daughter needs lifesaving surgery and with her funds tight and her emotional scars tighter, she’s running out of options. When she receives an offer for assistance from Mike’s Place, can Melody put her faith in the men her husband called friend?

Have you ever woken up, day after day, to discover your body’s betrayal?

Marine Captain, Joe Anderson Cooper, received the Silver Star for Valor when he led his unit through heavy fire to rescue fellow Marines. Despite numerous injuries, the Captain refused medical aid, insisting that the medics attend others. A broken back and shattered bones put Captain Cooper in a wheelchair and every day is a battle to keep his recovery on track and his sanity intact. When a single mom moves in to the apartment next door to his and he recognizes a kindred—damaged—soul, can he overcome her fear and be the man she’s always needed?
Can these two lonely souls rise to the challenge or will their scars trap them forever?

Letting herself out of the apartment, she locked up and turned to find her neighbor locking his door. He caught sight of her and smiled. “Good morning.” His deep baritone hummed over her senses. She appreciated the low voiced greeting.

“Good morning.” She wanted to say something more, but her brain locked up around the words. He eased his wheelchair back until nearly off the sidewalk and motioned for her to precede him. Biting her lip, she found another smile for him. “Thank you.” Her heartbeat accelerated and sweat cooled her spine. She didn’t hug the wall, but she couldn’t help widening the distance between them.

The wheels made the faintest squeaking noise after she passed, and she glanced back to see him following her down the path toward the parking lot. Maybe she should have offered to push. He wore an olive green t-shirt and a matching pair of slacks, though they were cut up the side of the large cast encasing his right leg from mid-thigh to his toes.

He—Joe, he said his name was Joe—met her gaze and gave her another easy smile. His eyes crinkled at the corners and the dimple in his cheek deepened. The sidewalk widened and she slowed to let him catch up.

“I’m sorry. I’m not the best company this morning.”

“No worries, ma’am. Little ones take a lot out of a body.” The buttery softness of his voice washed over her like a soothing balm—like the night before when he knocked on her door and introduced himself. He scared the hell out of her, but not in the same breath.

I must be tired. I have no idea what I’m feeling from one moment to the next. As if summoned by her thought, fatigue wavered through her and she stumbled. The diaper bag swung down her arm. She couldn’t catch it and hold the baby at the same time. Joe stopped the bag’s arc, and gave her a chance to catch her balance.

“May I?” He offered, still holding the bag.

May he what…? He wanted to carry the bag for her and she winced. It was heavy and he…

“I have plenty of room and then you don’t have to worry about it taking you off balance again.”
The sound logic quashed her natural objections. She shifted Libby carefully and let the strap fall off her arm. Her internal alarms sounded. Giving him the bag didn’t give him some kind of power over her, but her gut tightened at the surrender of her possession.

He settled the bag against his lap and nodded encouragingly. “Just point me to your car…”

“Oh, I don’t drive. Well, I do but I’m not driving here. I’m actually just staying here for a few weeks and I’m waiting for the shuttle.” She tacked the last on with a grimace. “And apparently I’m as muddleheaded for real as I feel. Sorry. Thank you. The shuttle is scheduled to pick us up here in about…” She couldn’t look at her watch.

“Two minutes.” The captain supplied. “I’m waiting for the same shuttle.” His warm brown gaze turned studious. “Are you okay?”

Sarah's Review:
This story is slightly different in that Madame Eve and her 1NS service is not associated with it.  This story is still part of the Always a Marine series but it is also part of the Challenge series.  Heather Long tells a great story with this one but one that needs to be told.  She addresses a topic that is sensitive, but she does it with class.  Mike's Place is vital to the this story as well.  

I am struggling to write this review because there is so much I want to say.  This story brings a wounded soldier (Joe), a wounded widow (Melody) and a crying baby (Libby) together by the coincidence of being neighbors.  Below is part of my review on Goodreads from when I first read this story back in January.  
I love that Heather Long is not afraid to discuss topics that many people want to ignore. DV is a topic that people would rather not talk about or have such strong feelings about, it makes it one that people would rather avoid. As a survivor of a DV relationship, I will say whole heartedly, that this story is respectful about what the survivor (or victim as many would call it) goes through.
Melody is a strong woman that had to pick up the pieces after he abusive husband died during combat. She also has to raise Libby, her daughter, that was born with a heart defect alone.  She has no family with her a Mike's Place that can be there for her.  When she married Tuck, her now deceased Marine husband, she went against her parents.  She is cautious and skittish around guys that could be seen as intimidating. 

Joe is Melody's neighbor who was injured during combat and is at Mike's place recovering.  One evening he hears Libby crying and decides to see if he can offer assistance.  He had not seen much of Melody or Libby, but he had heard Libby crying for several nights.  When he knocks on the door and  Melody finally opens it, Joe is able to recognize some signs that she had been hurt but wasn't sure by who.  The next morning he crosses paths with Melody and Libby again on the way to the shuttle.  During their interactions that morning, Joe is able to pick up on more signs that something horrible had happened to her.  After his group session, he talks to James, the beloved psychologist of Mike's Place, and tries to find out if Melody was still on campus. 

We also meet Meredith, Joe's mother, who Melody describes as a velvet tank.  Meredith was able to help Melody realize that she needed to get better for herself and Libby, then worry about if she was good enough for Joe.  Melody said that Joe knew what he wanted and he wasn't going to push Melody for more than she could handle.  

At the end, we see 6 months in the future and see the changes that Joe and Melody both experienced.  Libby was with Meredith, so we didn't get to see her, but Joe had given us some of the updates that he had been given from Melody.    

I hope that Heather will give us a look into their future soon. I would love to see how Libby is doing ad how Joe and Melody are doing as well.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Marine and a Gentleman (Always a Marine #9)

A Marine and A Gentleman

The ninth installment in the Always a Marine anthology in 1Night Stand (1NS) line for Decadent Publishing. 1Night Stand is the business name of an exclusive online dating service run by Madame Evangeline who provides her clients with a possibility of happily ever after or happily for now.

A Marine and A Gentleman NOR_reviewertoppick2
Always a Marine #9
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Lieutenant Brenden Fitzpatrick is a dedicated Marine, loyal son, and devoted uncle but he’s lonely. When he went Marine, the rule was don’t ask, don’t tell. His brothers-in-arms pretty much didn’t ask and didn’t care. Watching so many friends settle into long-term relationships highlighted the absence of someone to come home to in his life. When his unit encourages him to give the 1Night Stand service a try, he asks for the impossible—a night with the one man he almost gave up the Marines for in the first place. A man he called best friend but let time and distance carry away.

Liam Gardiner grew up on the same Boston block as his best friend, Brenden. Unlike Brenden, Liam always accepted that he was gay—a fact he didn’t mind flaunting to all the bullies and naysayers in school. It got his ass kicked more than once but Brenden always had his back, rescuing him time and time again, until the day Brenden left for the Marines. He missed his buddy—the crush he never confessed, lest it cost him the precious friendship—so when Madame Eve’s invitation arrived to meet Brenden, Liam faces uncertainty for the first time.

Liam stepped out of the rental car and handed the keys to the valet. The Dallas night club was not at all what he expected. Heavy wooden doors offered a gothic touch to the façade. A red canopy stretched out to the circular drive matching carpet that led to the doors. A doorman dressed in a nineteenth century double breasted coat, top hat, and tails held out his hand for the card from the mysterious service.

“I think I’m going to wait out here.  It’s a beautiful day.” Sliding the card back into his wallet, he walked along the curb to a quieter spot away from the foot traffic and arrivals—and, unsurprisingly, no departures. It was just after six-thirty in the evening local time. He rented the car at the airport and bypassed his hotel to come straight to the club. He hadn’t decided whether he planned to stay the night or not, no matter what he agreed to with the 1Night Stand service.

Even the name brought a half-smile to his lips. The woman who sent him the three emails offered an uncannily accurate assessment of his situation. At the end of the day, it was the forwarded request from Brenden which prompted him to say yes.  Extracting a cigar case from his inner pocket, he trimmed the end off of one end and lit it. The fragrant tobacco filled the air and calmed his mind. He handled power lunches and dinners every night of the week. As a professional banker, he knew when businessmen tried to bullshit him or when they really had a plan.

He knew how to say no.

He always knew when to say yes.

Reading people for a living wasn’t pretty work, but it was lucrative. Another couple arrived, huddled together and dashing up the steps as if it were cold. The forty-five degree temperature and dead still air were hardly cold to his Boston forged blood.

Why Dallas? Liam would’ve preferred to meet Brenden at home, at the Tipperary on the Green, to toss back a pint for old times. But no, Brendon invited him to the cowtown in the middle of the country where big boots, big steaks, and big boobs seemed to be everywhere.

Big hair, too. He eyed the next couple arriving. It looks like the 80s threw up on her. He puffed the cigar and kept his acerbic opinion to himself but the distraction helped. Thirty-two years old and on the ropes over an invitation to drinks.

The drinks aren’t the problem. Come meet the guy I’ve lusted after for over half my life and spend the night with him? Yeah, nothing to be nervous about.

 Sarah's Review: 

I am going to preface this review by saying that I am not "normally" a fan of slash (m/m or f/f) stories, but because of this series, I read it anyway.  I am glad that I decided to go with my gut and read it.  This story is romance, plain and simple.  Granted, there is sex, but come on, that is par for the course with the 1NS series. 

I love that Brendan and Liam were friends in high school and Brendan always defended him.  Liam knew who he was in high school and didn't let the bullies change who he was.  Brendan knew that he was going to be a Marine and kept who he truly was hidden so that he could serve.  Now with DADT repealed, Brendan is able to be who he truly is and when given the chance with Madame Eve's 1NS, he goes after who he wants.  I love that Liam agreed, knowing that it was Brendan.  Liam is curious to find out why Brendan wanted it to be him.  Liam has always thought Brendan was straight and that helped keep their friendship.

I enjoyed reading them catching up like old friends then decide to go to the next level. I hope that we can see snippets of them in the future.  I would love to see how they transitioned from friends to lovers while Brendan was deployed and Liam was on the home front.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Two and the Proud (Always a Marine #8)

The Two and The Proud

The eighth installment in the Always a Marine anthology in 1Night Stand (1NS) line for Decadent Publishing. 1Night Stand is the business name of an exclusive online dating service run by Madame Evangeline who provides her clients with a possibility of happily ever after or happily for now.

The Two and The Proud
Always a Marine #8
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Decadent Publishing

Roger Michael Easton IV, better known as Rowdy, flouted the family’s Naval tradition to enlist the Marines—not as an officer, but a ground-pounding grunt. He never expected to see as much combat or valor as he did in the field, but every engagement furthered his commitment to his brothers in arms. Now, with an offer to end his contract early on the table, Rowdy has to take a long look at the life he left behind, the life he’s built, and the future he longs to have.
Rowdy wants a woman who gets him.

Inactive Marine, Kim Wakefield, continues to serve her country as a Naval Criminal Investigator. She’s hard on the grunts and sailors because she is one of them—and they didn’t sign up for easy.  Tired of the seedier side of military life—picking up drunk Marines, AWOL sailors, busting drug running operations, or worse, sending drug addicted servicemen to court marshal and treatment.  She longs to have her faith in her fellow Marines restored.

Kim wants a man who knows what she needs.

Thrown together by chance on a 1Night Stand, these two jarheads have a combustible chemistry—but do they have what it takes?

Not sure how those results could be a bad thing he tapped the side of the shot glass. “Put the piece in the safe. They have the kind you can program here. I’ll keep my eye on the tequila.” He wouldn’t have tried to memorize her combination anyway, but he didn’t miss the minute relaxation around her eyes when he told her he’d watch the drinks.

True to his word, he kept his attention on the alcohol while she stowed the gun. When she leaned against the bar next to him, he pushed a shot glass over to her. “Let me preface this by saying I absolutely want to have sex…but I don’t want to be limited by the one night stand.”

She hesitated in mid-reach for the glass and stared at it, not him. “Clarify?”

“I like you. You’re smart—which is both good and bad.”

“How can it be good and bad?” Her chin came up and she swung a hard gaze on him. Temper flared just beneath the surface, bright as the lightning outside, it enhanced the outrage in her eyes.

Gotcha. Just one little nudge to crack the cool façade and the passionate woman beneath glared at him. Yeah, that’s more like it.  A second knock on the door interrupted and he let her think about it while he took the tray from room service and sent them away. He set the tray on the luggage stand and ignored it for now.

He sprinkled salt onto the side of his hand.  “It’s good, because it’s sexy.” He bit into a lime and tossed back the tequila. He finished off the ritual with a quick lick of the salt. “It’s bad because you’re playing a game with me.”  He poured himself another shot, the first warming his gut and loosening more of the tension. He barely added the salt to his wrist when she slammed back her own drink, caught his hand and stroked her tongue over his pulse point before gliding up the side of his hand to take the salt.

All the blood in his head rushed south and he let out a low whistle. “Damn.”

“Courage isn’t doing something because you know you can do it.” She moistened her lips and he couldn’t look away. “It’s doing what you’re not sure you can be successful at.”

Sarah's Review:

Heather Long has done it again!  She gave us another great story about Marines.  This time though, she gave us a pair of Marines, one of which is an NCIS Special Agent.  Since I follow Ms. Long on Facebook, I know she is a fan of the CBS show, NCIS.   She combined my favorite show and this amazing series.  

Rowdy and Kim, our beloved Marines, meet up for drinks as part of their mutual 1NS courtesy of Madame Eve.  I love the way that Rowdy was trying to scope of the place to find Kim but Kim had him beat.  I love the way Rowdy was able to cut through Kim's hardcore presentation.   I love that Kim didn't take Rowdy's bluntness to heart and was able to let him in.

These two characters reminded me a lot of the beloved TIVA (Tony and Ziva) from NCIS.  Kim reminds me of Ziva in that she is confident with who she is and that she isn't willing to let a guy walk all over her.  Rowdy reminds me of Tony because of his ability to call Kim out on the reason she is the way she is. 

I hope to see these two again in the future.  I would love to see where Kim and Rowdy end up considering the ending.

Friday, May 17, 2013

RELEASE DAY: Bidding Wars: Love Strikes Trilogy Book 1

Bidding Wars
Love Strikes Trilogy - Book 1

*Coming May 17, 2013!*

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Length: 50,000
Price: 5.99

A sheriff plus a nurse plus a house equals trouble…

Nurse Molly Harper has had a tough year. But when she decides to regain control of her life, buying her dream house becomes her first priority. Finding the perfect house and falling in love with it—that’s the easy part. The hard part is getting rid of the obnoxious man who thinks he’s going to be the new owner. Even if he is gorgeous. And the sheriff…

Sheriff Luke Logan needs to buy a house. Getting out of the renting game will help in the custody battle for his son, so when the perfect place pops up right on his street, he can’t believe his luck. But there’s already an offer on the table, and the woman won’t back down. Too bad she doesn’t know that he always goes after what he wants, and he has no intention of letting her have “his” house. Even if she does make him feel that he might need more than just a house to make a home…

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Luke stared at the papers in front of him. His real estate agent had faxed them over. Apparently, more than one person wanted the place on Maple Street, and he now needed to decide if he wanted to offer any higher.

He’d really liked the old house. It would be great for when his son came to visit every other weekend. But now he had to decide how badly he wanted the place. Of course, this could be some gimmick from the sellers. They knew what a gem they had there and probably wanted the most they could get. He had forty-eight hours to come up with his new offer, if he decided to. He already had a good offer on the house—but was it good enough? He rubbed his temples and brushed the papers to the side of his desk. If he didn’t get it, there were other homes.

Some sort of commotion was coming from the front of the station. It was always something. Sometimes he wished that one day at work could be slow and boring. Perhaps he should have chosen a different profession.

He went to see what was going on. At the front desk, he found a very familiar-looking brunette demanding to talk to someone. Women were never patient when they needed something.

“Ma’am, calm down. I’m Sheriff Logan. Can I help you?”

The woman looked him square in the eye. “You! You’re who I am looking for.”

He flinched beneath her bold, accusing stare. “Why don’t we go back to my office, and we’ll see what I can help you with.”

She followed him down the hall, her heels clicking loudly on the tiled floor. This woman was really uptight. He took a seat and pointed toward the chair in front of his desk, but she didn’t sit. She looked as though she was ready to burst.

“I won’t be here long enough to get comfortable.”

“Tell me what’s going on.”

“You’re trying to steal my house,” she snapped.

Sarah's Review:
As a member of Lacey Wolfe's street team, I had the pleasure of reading snippets of this story a few months ago  It was pure torture because the first couple chapters sucked me in.  I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this today, ALL DAY!  I didn't get anything else done today, but that is okay because everything was done.

I love that this story was longer than previous stories for Ms. Wolfe.  I love that this story is addressed many different things that can happen in life.  While I have never bought a house before so I don't know what happens in this situation.  I thought that Ms. Wolfe did an amazing job taking something as stressful as buying a house and turned it to a positive thing.  I love that the way the story ended because I did not see it coming at all!  Part of it, I will be honest and say that I saw it coming.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Marine Cowboy (Always a Marine #7)

The Marine Cowboy

The seventh installment in the Always a Marine anthology in 1Night Stand (1NS) line for Decadent Publishing. 1Night Stand is the business name of an exclusive online dating service run by Madame Evangeline who provides her clients with a possibility of happily ever after or happily for now.

The Marine Cowboy 
Always a Marine #7
Purchase Now:
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Decadent Publishing

Turning down a billet at Mike’s Place in Dallas, Sergeant A.J. Turner left Iraq for Freewill, Wyoming with one goal in mind—to forget the last five years. Trading his MARPATS for jeans and his cover for a cowboy hat, he plans to work his ranch and pray the green grass, tall trees, and sweet mountains can wash away the taste of the desert.

The last thing he expected was a reminder of a promise made to his buddies: one night to help them all start again.

Sheri Vaughn quit her corporate job, sold her house and moved to Freewill on a whim. Six months after her divorce, she’s hardly ready to put her toe in the dating waters again. One bottle of wine later, however, she signs up for Madame Eve’s exclusive 1Night Stand service and lists a very particular set of qualities she wants in a man; he must be honorable, courageous, forthright, single, have served as Marine, but be a cowboy at heart. If she wants to dream, at least she can dream big.

But when local hero A.J. Turner arrives home, Madame Eve comes through, and Sheri has to find the courage to make her dream a reality…
Can one night, even a night arranged by Madame Eve, fulfill both a promise and a dream?

“What branch did he serve in again?” She glanced at the waitress curiously. Bea was born, married, gave birth to her children and buried her husband in Freewill. The town fixture wasn’t going anywhere. She also took Sheri under her wing from the day she arrived, treating her like an old friend—or a daughter.

“Marines, honey. That young man is definitely one of Freewill’s proudest.” She winked and went back to work.

A Marine. A tremor raced over her belly and her stomach seemed to bottom out.

The message waiting in her email this morning from Madame Eve made so much more sense. Biting her lip, she strained to look down the street. She wished she’d paid closer attention to him when he walked in, but she only got one good look at his face when he turned and caught her staring.
Her cheeks heated at the memory. The man was gorgeous and wore his masculinity like a second skin. He’d caught her attention the moment he entered the café. She hadn’t missed the corded muscle in his arms, tense and well defined even as he drank a cup of coffee.

But his smile.

Her heart squeezed. The polite smile creasing his rugged face turned him from a looker into a full-blown heartthrob. Her body hummed in reaction. To a smile.

Wow. He just got home. Dial down the hormones.

Sarah's Review:
Oh how I love cowboys and Marines and this one gave me both!   This story is also part of  3 different Decadent Publishing's Series: Always a Marine, 1Night Stand and Western Escape

AJ is a Marine who, despite the offer from Capt. Luke Dexter (Always a Marine 1) to work at Mike's Place, returns home to Freewill, Wyoming after serving 7 years in the Marines.  He comes home to run his ranch and build his life where he grew up.  He forgets that he was suppose to sign up for Madame Eve's 1NS service, but Luke doesn't and made his account active.  He is surprised when Luke tells him that Madame Eve is trying to reach his, but he follows through. 

Sheri is a recent transplant to Freewill, but she had heard all about AJ.  She relocated after her sleazy ex-husband cheated on her countless times during their marriage.  After signing the divorce papers she decides it is time for a fresh start and she ends up in Freewill where she becomes the town's librarian.  She decides to sign up for the 1NS service to help her regain her life back.  She dills out the application thinking that Madame Eve wouldn't be able to meet her requirements of a Cowboy and a Marine along with others.  So when Madame Eve lets her know her date is ready to be schedule, Sheri starts wondering if it is AJ. 

These two have chemistry right from the start.  I love that both of them were hoping their date was the other.  Though AJ had planned to ask Sheri out after church on Sunday.   I hope to see these two again in the future!