Friday, September 25, 2020

In Service of Love by Laurel Greer (Spotlight and review)

Laurel Greer


Could a dog help heal them both?

A service dog in training knows just what they need!

Veterinarian Maggie Reid is focused on training service dogs and has no time for romance. Yet Asher Matsuda sends her guarded heart into a tailspin. The widowed single dad has vowed to put his grieving daughter first. He can’t be falling for a beautiful workaholic who hides behind her career. But every dog has its day and this stubborn duo is no different…if only they’ll take a chance on love!


She was back in the true crime section, like she had been the first day he’d noticed her and Jackson. Was wearing scrubs again, too. Unsurprising, since she must have left work to come here. She did it for the dog, not for me. 

But a man could dream. Some naive, romantic part of him, a part that had survived despite of—or perhaps because of—Alex, could easily imagine Maggie popping in to share lunch, or a secret kiss in the stacks… Nerves fluttered in his chest, and the corners of his mouth quirked up. 

“It seems Jackson is missing his true love,” he said. 

Maggie’s lips formed an O. “He was only with me for a few months.” 

“Apparently it only took that long to make an impression.” He stepped closer and brushed a stray curl off her cheek. “I can see how that would happen.” 

“Asher…” Longing flickered across her face. She bit her lower lip. 

He flexed his hands at his sides to keep from tracing his thumb along the pink flesh. “Yeah?” 

“You’re flirting with me.” She said it softly, warily, as if she couldn’t decide if she liked it or not. 


Her brow furrowed. “And you’re at work.” 

“Is that the only reason you don’t like it?” 

Her chest rose with a deep breath. Her earlier flush returned to her cheeks. “Who said I didn’t like it?” 

“A hunch.” 

She glanced over her shoulder and around him before rising up to steal a kiss. “You clearly shouldn’t listen to your hunches.” 

Clearly not. Sliding his fingers into her hair, he sank into the kiss. She tasted like mint, as if she'd anticipated this and popped a breath freshener. 

His pulse kicked up. Drove higher as her hands skimmed his back. 

She murmured a pleasure-filled sound that hummed along his skin. 

A throat cleared behind him. “I have a book to check out when you get a second. Is that you there, Maggie?” 

Maggie sprang back at Mrs. Brooks’s question. “Oh goodness. I’m so sorry.” 

“Don’t let me interrupt.” Amusement colored the older woman’s tone. “What’s a library for, if not a little romance? Those books are one aisle over, though, aren’t they?” 

“That’s— It’s not—” Maggie croaked, seemingly unable to finish a sentence. A deep red flush swept from her neck to her hairline. 

Asher palmed his mouth, smoothing his beard and turning on his winningest smile. “Apologies, Mrs. Brooks. Let me check out your selection for you.” 

It took everything he had, not to kiss Maggie one more time before he went to his desk. But one stolen embrace was plenty for today.  

Flirting was one thing. Making a habit of this woman was entirely another. 

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Raised in a small town on Vancouver Island, Laurel grew up skiing and boating by day and reading romances under the covers by flashlight at night. Ever committed to the proper placement of the Canadian “eh,” she loves to write books with snapping sexual tension and second chances. She lives outside Vancouver with her law-talking husband and two daughters. At least half her diet is made up of tea.

On a research trip to Montana, Laurel found the inspiration for the town of Sutter Creek, and the Dawson and Fitzgerald families came to life. The second trilogy in the Harlequin Special Edition Sutter Creek, Montana miniseries is being released June 2020, September 2020, and January 2021.



My review:

4.25 stars


In Service of Love by Laurel Greer centers around Maggie Reid, a veterinarian who also trains service dogs, librarian Asher Matsuda, and his precocious daughter. Neither is ready for a relationship, especially because their respective lives are not going quite the way they’ve planned, but their connection can’t be denied.


This adult contemporary romance is part of the ‘Sutter Creek, Montana’ series and spotlights Asher, the brother of the main character (Caleb) from “Holiday by Candlelight.” Who can resist the talented and sexy librarian who struggles to provide everything for his young daughter while he copes with both his own and her grief over the death of his husband? The gradual bond that forms between them, Maggie, and her noise-shy canine trainee is beautiful and touching to watch.


I thought the author did a wonderful job of depicting the challenges of juggling an overabundance of commitments, the delicate dance of exploring a relationship with a bisexual partner, and the importance of making sure Asher’s daughter was accepting and comfortable with his courtship. It was fascinating to learn what was involved in training a canine as a service animal, and I found myself cheering for Jackson to overcome his obstacles


This is my favorite story in the series thus far, and I enjoyed the cameos by characters from previous books. I’m looking forward to learning more about the third Reid sibling and her backstory and I’m sure that cameos will feature this adorable ready-made family as well.


A copy of this story was provided for review

Other books in this series:

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Light Catcher Murders by Jo Cassie McRae (VBB, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

The Light Catcher Murders

Kate Atherton Mysteries, Book 1


Jo Cassie McRae


Nestled in the scenic Texas Hill Country, the cozy town of Wheaton Creek seemed an idyllic place to escape the world’s increasingly harsh realities. At least, that’s what Kate Atherton thought.

Kate once enjoyed a long, successful career with a specialized, highly secret federal intelligence agency. Crises in both her personal and professional life drove her to early retirement and, ultimately, to Wheaton Creek, the perfect place for her and her former-military husband to escape what had come to feel like a world made up of wars, hatred, fear, and untimely death. And, at first, the escape was all Kate had hoped for. Then murder came to Wheaton Creek—a crime that a corrupt county sheriff seems determined to pin on Kate’s photographer friend, Lucy Celek.

Lucy’s work has been chosen to appear at a prestigious photography festival, a festival that could take her from amateur to professional standing. All goes well until the gallery displaying her work is broken into, and one of Lucy’s photographs is vandalized. A week later, the man Lucy suspected of destroying her photograph—a fellow photographer who was angry that his own work was not chosen by the festival committee—is murdered. Faced with a sheriff who shows little interest in expanding his list of suspects beyond Lucy, Kate feels she must dust off her puzzle-solving skills to find the real killer. Murder is just the beginning, though, as Kate’s amateur sleuthing begins to reveal a tangled web of crimes that go beyond anything she could have imagined.



Picking her way through the broken glass again, Kate slipped up behind Lucy. She gave the beleaguered deputy a sympathetic smile and gently took hold of Lucy’s elbow. “Lucy, dear. Do you think you might want to calm down? This officer is going to do his best to find out who did this and why. He isn’t the bad guy here.”

Lucy wheeled on her. “He doesn’t have to look far to find out who did this. If he’d just listen to me and quit asking irrelevant questions! I’ve been telling him that it has to be Stewart Wilson. You saw how Stewart behaved after the festival. He’s a horrible, angry, vindictive man! Did you see how he ripped into my mural? The bastard! If I could get my hands on him, I swear I’d rip into him the same way!”

The deputy’s eyebrows shot up, and he shifted uneasily, his pen hovering over his notepad. Kate’s grip on Lucy’s elbow tightened, as did the smile she showed the deputy. “I’m sure Ms. Celek didn’t mean that, Deputy Green,” she said. When Lucy started to disagree, Kate squeezed her arm so tightly that Lucy let out a little yelp of pain. “She’s understandably distraught. If you have more questions for her, might I suggest that you give her some time to collect herself? I’m sure she’ll be more helpful when she’s feeling a bit more rational.”

“Rational?” Lucy flinched again under the renewed fierceness of Kate’s grip and did not finish what she had been about to say.

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About the Author: Jo Cassie McRae is a native Texan who has lived near Austin on the edge of the Texas Hill country for over 30 years. In addition to writing, McRae loves to read, garden, and cook. Like Kate Atherton (The Light Catcher Murders), McRae’s bookshelves overflow with history books, biographies, historical fiction, and mystery novels. Unlike Kate, McRae does not have a mysterious, secret former career, having worked instead as a rather ordinary legal assistant at an Austin law firm.







This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jo Cassie McRae will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.  


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Monday, September 21, 2020

Born for Leaving by Jude Munro (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT ADULT title

Born for Leaving

by Jude Munro




GENRE:   Gay Romance






When they say be careful what you wish for, do you pay attention? 
Neither did Oliver Tunstead.

Oliver wishes for nothing more than to get his mind off his crappy bartending job, pile of debt big enough to swallow him whole, and playboy ex-boyfriend/boss who refuses to back off. Too bad distractions, like the hot little convertible he has his eye on, cost megabucks. And Oliver is flat broke. Renting the spare bedroom in his rundown beachfront cottage is his only option to pick up the cash he needs—a risky proposition, as Oliver is the polar opposite of a people-person. When he responds to a bizarre ad in the Waterfront Gazette seeking summer housing, he gets more than he bargained for. But Oliver can cope… After all, how much harm can a single quirky tenant do to his tightly guarded life in three short months?

Where Oliver is a loner by design, urban cowboy Bodie is a loner by necessity. A family dispute long ago dropkicked him onto the path of a lifelong wanderer. This changes when Bodie moves into the tiny beachfront cottage and starts working the door at Oliver’s bar.

Despite Oliver and Bodie’s nearly paralyzing instinct to avoid commitment, they fall into a wary romance. And to their surprise, life as a couple is sweetly satisfying; that is, until their jealous boss devises a cruel plan to destroy the tentative bond they’ve built. True to form, Bodie hits the road, leaving Oliver to lick his wounds alone. 

Can these wounded souls defy their urge to flee and fight for love?






“He wants to date you. Am I right?”


“Date me?” Bodie replies. “I’d say he wants something else.”


I nod. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”


“In theory.”


“I mean, just tell him you’re not gay. That pretty much closes the door to what Jack’s interested in.”


“But I am gay.”


I hate myself for gasping, but I do because this complicates things. For Bodie, with regard to Jack. And for me, because I’m starting to feel things for him I shouldn’t. “Uh…did you tell Jack that you’re gay?”


“He asked. I answered.” Direct, as always.


“You don’t owe him your private information.”


Again, he shrugs. “I don’t hide who I am.”


“Well, maybe you should have.” Jack won’t leave him alone now. He’ll interpret Bodie’s lack of interest as some kind of warped challenge.


And then Bodie does the strangest, most unexpected thing. He reaches out, hesitates with his arm midair, and takes my hand. He’s shaking. “I need this job, Ollie.”


“Fucking Jack Wheeler,” I mutter. “He’s such an asshole to put you in this position. I’ll talk to him.”


“I fight my own battles.” His words are clipped.


“I believe you. But please, let me try to help.”


He ignores my plea. “You used to be Jack’s guy, huh?” Bodie’s eyes narrow.


“Did he tell you that?”


“Yep.” He nods. “Do you still want to be his?”


“Not if he was the last man on earth.” I’m surprised at how certain I am about this.


Bodie’s half grin appears and his eyes pop wide. “Good.”


“Why’s that good?”


“Got my reasons.” He continues to smile.


“Care to share them with your housemate?” I squeeze his hand, flirting. I’m scared of his reply as much as I’m desperate for it.


“Here’s my answer.” Bodie pulls his hand from my grasp and places it gently on the side of my face. And he leans in for a kiss. Soft, but not tentative. Just a brush of his lips to mine and, when he pulls back, it’s only by a few inches. I feel his breath on my lips, so sweet and light. Patient too. As if considering whether we fit together.


I nod and he moves even closer. More unified breathing, and the most emotional intimacy I’ve shared with another man—and we’re fully dressed on a beach, not naked in bed. I press my lips to his, but he pulls back.


“Let me do it,” he whispers against my parted lips, and I understand that this kiss is his ballgame, not mine.


Another feathery kiss to my lips and then another. Fingertips brush my cheek, the side of my neck, my chest on top of my thin T-shirt, drawing out goosebumps up and down my arms and along my spine.


I struggle to control my breathing, as a realization hits me: This weathered cowboy isn’t tough and cool, through and through. Bodie’s just a man, like me. With his share of hopes and fears and needs. A man who requires protection, as much as he is a protector.










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AUTHOR Bio and Links:



 Like Jude Munro, her fictional characters in her gay romance novels are drawn to the beach. They’ve sunbathed on the sands of many alluring East Coast beaches, along with the fantastical beaches in Jude’s books. They’ll answer questions like “Who do you think you are, the sun god?” (which they often resemble) if they can hear you over "Boys of Summer" cranking on their headphones. To most of Jude’s men, no shoes and no shirt is really not a problem. But even on the sunniest of beach days, the guys in Jude’s books do have problems… as in, serious relationship issues. Many of which seem insurmountable. And each character must earn his day at the beach. (Yes, there is always a HEA).









Twitter: @books_jude





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 My review:



3.75 out of 5 stars



Born for Leaving by Jude Munro/Mia Kerick features bartender and mixologist Oliver Tunstead and nomadic Nicholas Bowden (Bodie), whose search for a room and a job brings him into Oliver’s life. The two discover they have much in common, but their brand-new relationship may not survive all of the stresses placed upon it, no matter how much they are compatible.


This adult contemporary gay romance is the first book in the ‘New England State of Mind’ series. Please pay attention to the trigger warnings, as there are quite a few heartrending elements that are threaded throughout the story. I liked the way the story started, with kind of a quirky connection through an ad, but there are definitely dark elements as things progress. Both of the main characters are sweethearts, but each has had to overcome painful pasts, and as the story progresses, it was disconcerting to me that several situations are not handled in the way I think they should have been.


For me, it’s easier to accept that bad things happen in a story if there are repercussions and comeuppances, and there just weren’t enough, and I didn’t understand why reports or complaints weren’t made. There’s also an abrupt time shift toward the end and things are tied up in a nice bow, but I think counseling is warranted.


I love stories that underscore the premise that there is someone for everyone, and this story does a nice job of illustrating that. I enjoyed several of the secondary characters, and of course, any story with a lovable dog has “aww” moments that help balance out the painful ones. There is a happy ending, of course, but I can’t help feeling that there’s a ticking time bomb related to the way certain things were handled, and I wonder if there’s a sequel somewhere down the line or whether this story is meant to reflect real life, and the way not everyone gets a perfect resolution.



A copy of this story was provided for review


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Fated Always by Becky Flade (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

ADULT title
Becky Flade


GENRE: Romantic Suspense



Friendship. Secrets. Murder.

When her best friend, Sawyer Gavin, roars into town on his motorcycle, Tala Gael thinks life couldn’t get any better. What she couldn’t have anticipated was his appearance heralding a time of change in her quiet, comfortable existence.

With her life turned upside down, Tala resists Sawyer’s advances, clinging to the familiar.

Tragedy changes her mind, but as she takes the leap of faith into Sawyer’s arms, they find themselves suspects in a murder investigation. And Tala learns she’s not the only person in Trappers’ Cove keeping an impossible secret.

Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have; envy is coveting what someone else has; and both can lead to murder.



“How’s the wine?” His lips feathered over hers in a whisper. Twice. On his third pass, Tala’s eyes drifted shut as her body molded itself to his and she deepened the caress. His world spun as she clung to him. I knew it. I’ve always known it. He stepped away, steadying her when she swayed, waited for her eyes to open. “Excellent.”


He smiled. “The wine’s excellent.”

Her fingertips rose to her mouth. Her eyes widened, confusion blurred them. He smiled and pulled her into his arms. It was not a passionate embrace. He offered comfort and she held on, squeezing tighter when he placed a gentle kiss at her temple.

“Are you surprised?” he whispered.

“I have a boyfriend.”

“I wasn’t expecting that but it’s an easy enough fix.” He tugged her braid. “Come on, Tee. We’re meant to be.”

“No, we’re not.”

She reared out of his arms, panic skating across her features as though threatened. Her reaction struck him like a fist to the gut. He suspected she hadn’t taken him, taken them, from the box where she thought they belonged. She hadn’t considered them from any other perspective. I thought once she saw, once she felt, once she knew, the rest would click into place. “You know that we are.”

“Stop it! I. Have. A. Boyfriend.” She punctuated each word with a stab of her finger.

“Fine. I’ll wait.” It’ll kill me. “You’re worth it. We’re worth it,” he stressed before grabbing her wrist and tugging her back into his arms. He held her there, though she didn’t struggle. He kissed her again, pouring his impatience into the kiss. He let her go and strode to the door, pulling it open, letting the cool snap of air scented by forest file past him into her house, and paused.

“You want me to stop?”

She nodded.

“Then stop kissing me back.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

When I was little I thought everyone had stories in their head. When I found out that wasn’t true and that only special people had stories to tell, I wanted to be one of the people who shared their stories with the world. Here I am, making my own dreams come true, one happily ever after at a time.

I'd love to have you visit with me at any of my virtual homes or write to me directly at

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My review:



3.75 stars



Fated Always by Becky Flade centers around Tala Gael, whose ordered life and plans for the future are upended by the return of her best friend, Sawyer Gavin. When their comfortable relationship shifts, plus a murder investigation threatens all who she cares about, she has to make a decision about how to deal with her most closely guarded secret.



This adult paranormal romance is part of the ‘Fated’ series and takes place some years after the events in “Fated Souls,” so young Tala is all grown up. The combination of a friends-to-lovers romance, a murder investigation, and the mystical connection that Tala has with those she’s grown up with makes this a story that will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers. I was delighted by the cameos by multiple folks from the previous stories and touched by some of the interactions between Tala and her childhood friends.


Although there were nice twists and turns with regard to the mystery, things felt a bit disjointed to me, and the antipathy displayed by the investigator was confusing, as were some of the relationships that are exposed. Thankfully, this is a romance, so I knew I’d get a happy ending, but patience was required! Although this can be read as a stand-alone story, reading the previous books will make the connections clearer.




A copy of this title was provided for review