Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Empty Handed by Jo A Hiestand (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT Updated w/review

Jo A. Hiestand


GENRE:   British mystery



One dark night artist Craig Saxton went missing from his village.  His body was found thirty-two hours later in the river, floating like a bobber on a fishing line. Rumors swell like tidal waves: did his ex-wife or his fiancée’s father kill this likeable young man? Or was it simply a case of jealousy by the village’s other artist? Now, two years later, Craig’s fiancée hopes ex-police detective Michael McLaren can find out. From speaking to villagers, McLaren quickly realizes that what appears to be a straightforward investigation is fast becoming as tangled as fishing lines. Are the fish poaching incidents, the reappearance of the local ghost, and assaults on him merely to muddy the investigative waters, or are they connected to Craig’s death? McLaren has his hands full. They become even fuller when a nemesis from his past appears one night, bent on revenge. And the inevitable struggle opens a new future for one man…and leaves the other empty handed.


They settled at a table they considered theirs. It was in a corner, diagonal to the pub’s front door. Sitting with the wall behind them and their faces to the door was a habit McLaren kept from his days as a working detective. And it was one habit he was in no rush to break.

Jamie set his glass mug on a cardboard beer mat and leaned forward slightly. The reddish streaks in his otherwise brown hair shone under the overhead light. “Congrats on solving the murder of your uncle’s first fiancée, by the way. Do you like his new bride? What’s her name?”

“Karen. And yes, I like her. I wasn’t too sure when I first met her, but she has a lot of inner strength. She’s good for him.”

“And where are you off to now?”


“That’s not far. Near Hartington, isn’t it? On the River Dove?”

“Yeah. Small place. And it sounds like an odd case. The woman, Victoria Childs, doesn’t know who else to turn to for help.”

“So, she turns to you.” Jamie smiled, his eyebrow raised. “She’s made a brilliant choice.”

McLaren let the comment pass unanswered. “She wants me to find the killer of her fiancé. His name’s Craig Saxton. He was an artist, quite prominent in the local area, though you couldn’t swear it by me.”

“You frequent art galleries only when your sister has something to exhibit.”

McLaren nodded, his fingers sliding down the sides of his glass. “Anyway, this Craig Saxton had been missing for one and a half days. His body was found against the sluice gate in the river.”

“Not good.”

McLaren snorted at the understatement. “He was also missing his right hand.”

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British.  Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during her professional folk singing stint.  This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of both the Peak District mysteries and the McLaren cold case mystery series.

Jo’s insistence for accuracy, from police methods and location layout to the general feel of the area, has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research.  These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.

In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English.  She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

Her cat Tennyson shares her St. Louis home.



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3.5 out of 5 stars

Empty Handed by Jo A. Hiestand is part of the ‘McLaren Mysteries’ series. It follows the former Inspector as he wrestles with a new cold case at the request of the victim’s bereaved fiancee. The small village of Linnden seems peaceful, but the undercurrents may prove deadly to the unwary.

This British mystery story showcases Michael McLaren as he reluctantly takes on a case that requires expertise from both his past and current occupations. As the story unfolds, there are primarily a couple of viewpoints being used, with a brief foray into another character’s point of view, which was a little jarring for me, especially since it seemed a bit forced and wasn’t really pursued,

 I enjoy the opportunity to armchair travel and this story gave me a nice image of a picturesque region but I’m not quite sure I have a feel for what the town looks like and I’m surprised that it is large enough for an art gallery, but perhaps that is typical for the countryside.  I wish there were more scenes that showcased the multiple breeds of dogs because I was intrigued by their presence but never got a feel for them as other than watchdogs or nuisances.

I was surprised that McLaren was so casual about certain events that endangered him and it seemed to me that he neglected to use some of the procedures that would have been standard responses (e.g. reporting an assault) and I wasn’t sure why. I’m delighted that McLaren’s friend Jamie still has his back although I expected him to be called in sooner when one of the major events transpired.

This series continues to provide an entertaining look at a different lifestyle and although this story isn’t my favorite, it should appeal to those who enjoy getting a taste of British investigation techniques or glimpses of life in a small hamlet of the English countryside.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review

Monday, May 27, 2019

That Guy and That Girl by Natalia Albrite (VBT, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT Updated

Whoops, my apologies! I forgot to add the wonderful post by author Natalie Albrite, who shares...

Top 5 Reasons Why Self-Publishing is My Chosen Path


Natalia Albrite

I started writing That Guy and That Girl in May of 2018. From the very baby beginning of the journey I knew that shopping it out to traditional publishers was not a route I would take. Here are my top 5 reasons why:

#1 Permission from myself is all I need. I got to tell myself go and I still get to tell myself go. I don’t have to wait for anyone’s approval or permission to write. The only permission I need is my own and I really appreciate that. At this point, it’s really hard to imagine any other scenario appealing to me.

#2 Freedom of choice about what I write: I get to decide. Right now, I’m solidly in a new adult sports romance phase and I enjoy the heck out of it. I am committed to seeing this series through. However, I love that within this series I can add any tidbits or plot points that I feel drawn to. Also, in the future, I can move into new genres if I choose. My goal is to build an enthusiastic and loyal audience that’s willing to take chances with me.

#3 Great authors to emulate on this path: wow, the examples are endless! So many of my favorite authors are self-published geniuses and I can do the research to discover and emulate their paths. Penny Reid, Elle Kennedy, and Sarina Bowen are just three of the authors who I’ve noticed are blazing some amazing self-publishing trails. I really appreciate that this path is not mysterious or out of reach. The steps are logical and clear.

#4 I get to be a creative and a businesswoman. This is the best combination of skills I have ever had the privilege of using. I adore getting to exercise my creativity and tell stories. It is so much fun and satisfying in a way that nothing else has ever been. I’ve also been surprised by how fun the challenges of marketing and building a business are. I get to use a totally different side of my brain and pat myself on the back for problems solved and infrastructure built. If you would have told me a year ago that I could build my own website and send out a newsletter, I would have laughed at you.

#5 All the benefits are mine (and all the risk too). All of this infrastructure that I am building now is all mine. I haven’t shot to the top of any bestseller lists yet but the key word is yet. I have a plan for the future and I truly believe that if I stick with it and remain consistent I can achieve my goals. I can do it at my own pace and luckily for me, I get to receive all the benefit of that building.

For me, self-publishing has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Sure, I’d love the exposure of a major publishing house but truth be told, I love that I get to learn at my own pace. I can make mistakes and I can have victories and all of that belongs to me. I’m so grateful that the tools I need are within my reach. Who knows what the future holds but for now, I’m so grateful for this journey I’ve begun!



Natalia Albrite


GENRE:   New Adult Contemporary Romance



Olivia Meadows is excited to finish her senior year of college as a volleyball national champion beside her teammates and best friends. A complication arrives in the form of John Hunter, that guy, her brother’s best friend whom she has had a secret crush on since she was eleven years old. Effortlessly charming and handsome, with a body honed by years of playing football, John initiates his charm offensive and Olivia finds herself unable to resist him.

John Hunter is pumped to finish his senior year of college as a football national champion beside his teammate and best friend. The only thing missing is that girl, Olivia Meadows, his best friend’s little sister. He needed to sow some wild oats before settling down with Olivia but now he is ready for something serious with the girl he has always admired. 

Be careful what you wish for. John and Olivia find themselves dealing with adult consequences very quickly and wondering if their young love can endure the pressures of adulthood. Will they find deeper love or implode from the pressures of their own making?




I spot Marcus in my dad’s hand-me-down Maxima with John in the front seat next to him. Oh jeez. John Hunter. He’s that guy. He’s the stuff of young girls’ dreams and I gave him up long ago by trying to turn my eyes to other guys. The way I see it, it’s like this: 1) he’s Marcus’s best friend and I have no interest in messing up their friendship; 2) he’s not an intentional player but he’s a player just the same; and 3) thank you, but I’ll skip the broken heart, please. I’ve grown up in proximity to this handsome devil for most of my life and he still manages to make my stomach drop when I see him.

It’s such a cliché to say that he’s tall, dark and handsome but clichés work for a reason—they’re inescapable kernels of truth. John is tall at a striking six feet and four inches. He’s dark with his almost-black hair and deep brown eyes. I can’t forget the handsome with his perfectly structured jaw line. Ridiculous. Just by looking at him, I can feel my adrenaline kicking in and the sweat gathering. Great.

I plaster an annoyed look on my face because that’s how we interact with each other. That’s part of our unwritten script. He plays the charming rogue and I play the cynical wallflower who is suspicious of all his kind gestures. He jumps out and does a half-bow. “Madame, your chariot,” he says as he gestures to the front seat.

This book will be $0.99 during the tour.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Natalia is a lifelong reader and lover of romance novels. Before finally tapping away at her keyboard to create her own stories, she tried all sorts of professions: elementary school teacher, barista, seller of make-up, baker, and the list goes on. When she isn't pursuing the arts, she's hanging out with her husband, two wacky children, and full-figured Corgi.



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Happy Memorial Day 2019

Happy Memorial Day!

A special thank you to all who have served and those who are serving and to all of the family and friends who support those brave souls!

Don't forget the multiple ways you can brighten the day of some of these folks by participating in or donating to some of the support organizations such as:

Operation Gratitude

Soldiers' Angels

Wounded Warrior Project

Operation Paperback

Feel free to list in the comments other organizations that help our troops!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Bedazzled by Madison Michael FREE (Spotlight and excerpt)

The Beguiling Bachelors, Book 1  
Madison Michael

♥♥♥ ~ Free This Weekend Only ~ ♥♥♥


  She's fiercely independent. He's thwarted by tradition - Can a brush of her hand be their brush with fate? 

  A woman with everything to gain.  

Keeli Larsen craves success on her own terms. She has no support and less money, but she has talent and big dreams. Determined not to return to the family farm, this is Keeli's last chance to make it. It's also her final opportunity to connect with the out-of-her-league, gorgeous man in the penthouse office - her very own Prince Charming. Although they have never spoken, a crowded elevator, a chance encounter, and a misplaced hand are about to change everything.  

A man with everything to lose.  

Billionaire and sexy hunk, Wyatt Lyons Howe IV is on track to inherit a family empire he doesn't want. With dreams of his own, Wyatt is suffocating under generations of family expectations and traditions until a brief moment and a brush of a hand set Wyatt on a crash course with love. Can Wyatt turn his back on his heritage to pursue his goals following the lead of this fiery redhead. Can he forfeit his wealth for freedom? Fearing Keeli is a down-on-her-luck artist looking for a bankroll, Wyatt doubts her motives. He's been burned in the past but can't resist the temptation. He is bedazzled.  

A challenge accepted.  

Wyatt is seduced by Keeli’s spirit and the sizzling chemistry between them. Used to getting what he wants, Wyatt determines to make Keeli his own. But first he must outsmart a scheming fiancé, oppose his family and friends, overcome his doubts, and walk away from his wealth and power. And, of course, he must win her heart. 

  If you love sassy women and strong sexy men overcoming all odds on their road to romance, buy this steamy page turner, and meet the first of the Beguiling Bachelors.

***Bedazzled has been freshly edited and revised ***



The chatter in the elevator lightened her mood immediately, reminding Keeli of all the people who had started with only a few dollars and a dream. In many cases, they had made it without knowing the language or customs of their adopted country. By comparison, she had many advantages and instantly felt better about her choice, more confident about moving forward on her own. Mr. Weinberg let her take many of her pieces with her when she left his employ. There had been no severance check, of course, but the ready inventory was a gift. Keeli let the renewed confidence surge through her body, standing straight and looking ahead. Watching her step, careful not to bump anyone with her parcel, Keeli stepped into the divide and moved toward the back.

That was the moment she saw HIM. He was the best thing – by far – about working in this building. She was standing face to face with the virile, gorgeous, sexy man she saw in the elevator regularly. Well, almost face-to-face since he was at least 4 or 5 inches taller than her statuesque 5’10”.

He was what she would miss most about this job – these random opportunities to ride the elevator and watch him, getting to stand close, allowing her imagination to run wild with fantasies – all starring him, of course.

Most of the time, he hid mysteriously behind a pair of Wayfarers, but the rain today afforded Keeli a chance to admire the intelligence and concentration in his azure eyes. He stood with his shoulders back, head towering over everyone’s Looking up, Keeli locked eyes with his, his mouth lifting in a half smile. Keeli shyly dropped her head as a blush rose to her cheeks and her heart sped up. She knew the smile was just politeness. She wanted so much more. She wanted him to notice her the way she noticed him, feel about her as she did about him.
If only he had the same visceral reaction that Keeli had to him, perhaps he would have spoken to her by now. She could not overcome her shyness to initiate a conversation, but if he longed for her as she did him…obviously, he was not interested. Now she would never see him again. Her disappointment was way out of proportion; he was a stranger. But he had this pull on her. Instead of thinking of him as a stranger, she thought of him as hers.
Hers. What a laugh. Wake up Keeli!

Everyone noticed him - man and woman alike. She saw it on elevator rides and when he traversed the lobby. Yes, he was particularly tall, a few inches over six feet. However, it was more than his height that drew the eye. He was compelling, confident, and assured. He was beyond handsome with his chiseled features, thick wavy hair and well-muscled body clad in custom suits. Keeli was drawn to him like a bee to honey. She had seen other women catch his eye, seen them smile and flirt easily. She was overwhelmingly shy when near him, preventing her from ever making him ‘hers’.

They crossed paths at the coffee kiosk or in the elevator at least once a week. She knew she was projecting her own desires, but sometimes it seemed to her that he was seeking her out. Even so, Keeli never exchanged more than a polite “hello” and he was always polite, but aloof. Although she longed for some reason to speak more than pleasantries, she was unable to move past that invisible barrier she felt between them.

Why, oh why is facing forward considered appropriate elevator etiquette? I just want to stare at him one last time. Today needs to be the day to think of something to say, some witty conversation opener. You are running out of time.

Her brain searched now for a reason to speak, knowing it was her last chance. Instead, she reluctantly turned to face the doors. He was standing so close, lazily leaning his shoulders against the back wall. She felt the warmth of his breath on the back of her neck, goosebumps traveling up her arms in response to the moist heat. She was rocked by her immediate, erotic reaction.

Reigning in her body’s response, Keeli reminded herself that the warm breath was a result of proximity, not desire. She was a non-entity to him and had been for the16 months she had worked there. His polished appearance, custom suits and elegant leather briefcase contrasted with her wild red hair, shabby jacket, scuffed boots and faded Old Navy dress. He epitomized class and privilege; she embodied shabby chic. Maybe not even chic - just shabby. She could never bridge the gulf.


About the Author:

Madison Michael is an indie publisher, blogger and the author of the Beguiling Bachelor Series as well as the novella Desire & Dessert, from her sizzling B&B Billionaire Bachelor series. A Chicago native and hopeless romantic, Maddy was raised on Chicago culture, fairy tales, great literature and swashbuckling movies. Maddy employs that history, writing steamy contemporary romance novels set against the sumptuous backdrop of Chicago’s elite society. After receiving a BA in Journalism from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago, Madison abandoned her writing to find her way in the corporate business world. Daughter of a librarian, it was inevitable that she would return to the world of books. Maddy writes from high above Chicago where she can stare at its gorgeous skyline or the shores of Lake Michigan surrounded by feline assistants. When she is not writing,, Maddy can be found lost in a book, fighting for the rights of the mentally iil or dining on Chicago’s famous cuisine. Hot dogs and pizza, anyone?

 Social Links:

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Let Me Show You by Becca Seymour (Release blitz, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GBP ADULT title

Becca Seymour
ADULT title

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Claire Smith

Release Date: May 18, 2019

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Tropes: small-town romance

Themes: bullying

Heat Rating: 4 flames 

Length: 58 000 words

When a veterinarian and a construction worker connect, it takes mishaps, mistakes, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rex to show them they’re made for each other.

Dr. Carter Falon is content living a quiet life in a small town caring for his animal patients. That doesn't mean he's not looking for a distraction. After finding himself precariously wedged… naked and at the mercy of a drop-dead gorgeous construction worker, Carter hires his savior to renovate his home.

When Tanner Grady’s best friend and new niece needed him, he uprooted and relocated without a second thought. His life has since been centered on work and spending time with his family, but when he comes to the rescue of a cute vet, Tanner finds he's a lot more interested in the homeowner than the house he’s renovating.



My eyes widened when they landed on his form. Damn, it wasn’t every day a client greeted me in the nude. Looking at the path between me and who I assumed to be Carter on the ground, I tried not to let my eyes linger for too long on his smooth expanse of skin. He was lightly toned, with a softness about him that was impossible to not notice, despite trying my hardest not to.

With a shake of my head, I calculated each step I took to get to his side. Once I made it safely to the top, the floorboards creaking under my booted feet, Carter angled himself to turn and look at me. Definitely pissed off and in pain, and perhaps a bit mortified too, a light blush covering his cheeks. His gaze roamed me from bottom to top before landing on my own. I quirked my brow in amusement and question while strategically ignoring how fucking pretty his brown eyes were. “So…?” I offered.

He sighed, and I watched in fascination as his Adam’s apple bobbed when he swallowed. “I rushed from the piece-of-crap shower when I heard the knock. My foot went through the board, and it’s stuck.” His pink cheeks turned crimson.

Unable to stay the small smile tugging at my lips, I grinned as I stepped closer. I took my time to get to him, wanting to help the guy out. The last thing he needed was me falling on my ass. Clearing my throat, I crouched down at his side, my focus now on his leg and foot.

The whole area was rotten and would need ripping out. But for the time being, I’d need to tear up the two surrounding boards to get his ankle free. “You have tried to get it out, right?” I felt like a jackass for asking, but it was always best to check first.

Carter huffed out a breath. “Yeah, I did. It’s wedged against something. I tried pulling it out, but it’s a no go. It’s tighter than a virgin ass.”

My gaze whipped to his. What the fuck?With lifted brows, I stared wide-eyed at him, drawing another blush from him.

“Shoot, sorry. That was inappropriate.” His eyes widened in horror. “I meant, it’s wedged. Erm. It’s just wedged tight, and—”

I grinned. “It’s all good. Give me a sec.” The poor guy looked like he wanted to join his foot in the space under the floorboards and curl over. He needed an out, and I needed to get some air in my lungs away from his intoxicating smell and firm thighs, which were impossible to ignore in such close proximity.

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About the Author 

Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers. 

Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.


Author Links


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My review:

3.75 out of 5 stars

Let Me Show You by Becca Seymour spotlights veterinarian Carter Falon, who is renovating the house he inherited from his grandfather, and Tanner Grady, who has uprooted his life to support his best friend who has become a single dad. A memorable first meeting gradually develops into a sizzling relationship, but it seems that life in the small town of Kirkby may not be as peaceful as they would like.

This contemporary gay romance is a sweet celebration of multiple facets of love—between best friends, adult and child, human and pet, friends, family, and lovers. Although there is a conflict, for me, it seems a little forced and the resolution is even more awkward, but that doesn’t detract from the warmth that is evoked by the love and affection that the rest of the characters share with each other. One can’t help but be charmed by the darling Libby and sweet Rex, touched by the blossoming relationship that develops between the main characters, and amused by Carter’s irrepressible mom. I was a little disappointed that someone with the drive to become a veterinarian would fail to be his own advocate, especially with the support system he has, but I understand that something was needed to provide a bit of angst and possibly lead to a sequel. This is a quick undemanding love story that gives the reader a warm fuzzy feeling and a reason to cheer for two bighearted men who find that missing piece in their lives.

A copy of this title was provided for review

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Game Changer by Jaqueline Snowe (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT ADULT title

Jaqueline Snowe

ADULT title


GENRE:   NA Romance



Pretending to date your best friend is always a good idea…right? Wrong.

Greta Aske has a lot on her mind, and a string of bad dates has her giving up on men, at least for the time being. Her life contains a little too much drama, meaning she needs a break and to save money and get good grades. The perfect solution presents itself—pretend to date the campus playboy. That’ll keep the guys away for sure.

Aaron Hill is desperate to save his baseball career because, with his dad fighting cancer, he damn well knows he can’t ask for a single penny from his parents. Baseball is his past, present and future, so when a scandal threatens his chance in the MLB, he turns to his best friend for help. A fake relationship will keep him out of trouble. It’s perfect, really. Greta’s taking a break from dating and Aaron needs to focus on training.

Nothing could go wrong…as long as neither falls for the other. But when lines are crossed, what’s real and fake blurs and the two are forced to face their fears. Could Greta be the game changer Aaron needs?



I groaned into his shoulder. “I would do it again if I had to.”

“I know you would, G.” He laughed softly, the first time that night. I’d missed that sound.

“There it is. I wondered if your laughing part broke.”

“Okay, no need to be dramatic.” He picked up the ice and hissed at my arm. “Promise me something.”

“No need. I already made a vow to never online date again. No, to never date again. Or at least for five years. Don’t worry. This will never happen again.”

“It better not.” His hand came around my leg, squeezing my knee. “Promise me you’ll call me if you need help. Any time. Any place. You’re one of the most important people in my goddamn life.”

“Okay.” I met his gaze and winced at the intensity in his eyes. “I promise.”

“Good.” He yawned, taking the bag off my arm. “I’m going to sleep. I’m beat.”

“Uh, should I call a cab?” I hesitated.

“Don’t be a dumbass. Sleep here. You’ve crashed on the couch countless times.” He leaned back, fluffing up the pillows and rolling over. Damn those back muscles. I want to bite them.

I pushed myself up to head downstairs when his arm wrapped around me. “Uh, Aaron?”

“Stay here. My bed is huge. Don’t make it weird.”

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jaqueline Snowe lives in Arizona where the "dry heat" really isn't that bad. She identifies as a full-blown Gryffindor and prefers drinking coffee all hours of the day. She is the mother to two fur-babies who don’t realize they aren’t humans. Her life revolves around balancing her day job in education and her incessant need to write and explore the world with her wonderful baseball-loving husband.



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My review:

4 out of 5 stars

The Game Changer by Jacqueline Snowe centers around the relationship between best friends Aaron Hill and Greta Aske. Aaron’s hedonistic lifestyle as a star athlete on campus threatens to derail his hopes for a professional career and his desperate attempt at redemption requires a fake romantic relationship with Greta. Both go into the arrangement knowing that it’s fake, and they’re both determined to adhere to the terms they set…or are they?

This contemporary new adult romance is part of the ‘Cleat Chasers’ series and definitely depicts the angst, stress, and joy of dealing with college life, friendships, relationships, and family challenges. Part of the charm of the story is its depiction of the awkwardness that is part of the maturing process as these new adults bump their heads and make unwise choices and hopefully learn from them.

I enjoy the friends-to-lovers trope and thought these two make a cute couple, but there were a few things glossed over that I would have liked to learned about in more detail to get a better sense of their respective backgrounds. I think some things were treated as having been resolved more optimistically than they actually were, and although I understand the need for hope, I thought the reactions were a little unrealistic.

Somehow I think my wince at an impulsive decision or two is due to an age perspective and I’m very relieved that college days are long since past, lol. Those in search of an entertaining tale featuring new adults dealing with the difficult task of adulting should enjoy the antics of these folks. Hopefully some of the charismatic secondary characters will also get their time in the spotlight.

A copy of this title was provided for review.