HaBO: Poodle Offended by Bad Fashion
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Articles / December 31, 2019

This HaBO request is from Melissa, who wants to find this contemporary romance with suspense elements: Not sure how long ago I read this, but it was a contemporary romance (possibly romantic suspense) with a heroine who owned her own clothing/accessories store and had a poodle who (not joking) was offended by badly dressed people. At one point, the poodle growls at the hero for putting on a jacket that does not go with the pants/shirt he’s wearing. The hero was a cop (or possibly a PI) who comes to investigate when her store is broken into. He then becomes her bodyguard when it’s clear she is being targeted. It turns out someone is using her store to smuggle jewels (possibly stolen but I’m not sure) into the country as part of what is supposed to be costume jewelry that she sells in the store. I really hope this rings bells for someone! Who knows this one?

Nonfiction, Contemporary Romance, & More
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Articles / December 31, 2019

Phoenix Unbound Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven is $1.99! I gave this one a C-, but I’d still recommend it with large caveats. 1) All of the trigger warnings. 2) It’s dense and the slow burn is quite slow. 3) There’s a magical infertility cure. Draven’s writing is always top notch and I’m curious about the next book, which follows a different couple. A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Todaybestselling author of Radiance. Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses. But this year is different. Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to…

HaBO: Heroine Plays the Organ
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Articles / December 31, 2019

This HaBO is from JoJo, who is looking for a book they read ages ago: I read this book a million years ago…but it has stuck with me because it was so off the beaten path! The main character is a woman who writes Christian music, and I think plays the organ. She’s really good, but she’s not really a believer. It was so funny and irreverent that I would love to read it again. Sorry…that’s all I got. I’m assuming this is a contemporary?

Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
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Articles / December 31, 2019

A Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn December 31, 2019 · Kensington Books Contemporary RomanceRomance Love Lettering is a way to end the decade on a perfect note. Or perhaps it’s a way to start the new decade on a perfect note. Whichever option you choose, my enthusiastic recommendation remains the same. It’s not a book to race through and devour in a short span of time. My advice is to linger on each page and let the words engulf you. Love Lettering is about signs, art, words, and the power they wield over us — it’s only fitting that the reader treats the neat black letters on the page with as much gravity as the book does. Meg Mackworth is at the pinnacle of her professional career and the rock-bottom of her personal life. Blessed with Instagram renown and a New York Times endorsement, The Planner of Park Slope has no shortage of clamoring clients to commission intricate hand-lettering and calligraphy. The inexplicable erosion of her relationship with roommate-slash-BFF Sibby is Meg’s biggest problem…until Wall Street quantitative analyst Reid Sutherland walks through the door. A former client with an engagement that never reached the altar, Reid is in possession of…

Anne Bishop, Recommended Fantasy, & More
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Articles / December 30, 2019

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie RECOMMENDED: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley is $1.99! I loved this book and give it five stars on Goodreads. It’s easily one of my favorite historical romance and it recently showed up in the comments of our Rec League: Unassuming, Underestimated Heroes post. However, some readers didn’t feel any love necessarily between the hero and heroine. For those who have read this, what did you think? The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family–rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn’t be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them–of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz. The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He’s also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women. Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama–an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old…

Cover Snark: Best of 2019
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Articles / December 30, 2019

NB: This week, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite and our most popular pieces of writing this year. We’ve got a week of best-of posts to share, with reviews, cover snark, sales, and more. We hope you enjoy revisiting our archives, and most of all, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday and a happy new year – with all the very best of reading. … These are the top five Cover Snark posts of 2019! I’m not sure if it was this year or really last year, but we upped the Cover Snarkage. Instead of once a month, we started doing it twice a month. There is never a shortage of covers to snark and these collections in particular were quite popular. Let’s see which Snarks reign supreme. 5. Cover Snark Bingo (June 10) One cover in particular really nails all the usual suspects we’ve come to expect in a good Cover Snark. Bad photoshop. Several distracting font choices. A lake of fire? Best reader comment is from PamG: Alpha’s Concubine is not actually a romance but rather a YA dystopian novel about the consequences of rampant, outta control fracking.        …

Pirates, Witches, & More
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Articles / December 29, 2019

Stormy Persuasion Stormy Persuasion by Johanna Lindsey is $1.99 at Amazon and $2.99 elsewhere! Readers loved the opposites attract element of this historical romance, while others found the plot to be a little all over the place. It looks like a few other of Lindsey’s books are discounted. James Malory sets sail for America to honor a promise he made to his in-laws: His and Georgina’s daughter, Jacqueline, will have her come-out in America. Judith and Jacqueline Malory are not simply cousins; they are inseparable best friends. Refusing to miss Jacqueline’s come-out in Connecticut, Judith convinces her parents to let her delay her London debut by a few weeks so she can accompany her cousin. Neither girl intends to fall in love during her first Season. But Judith’s plans are overturned when aboard ship she comes face-to-face with the ghost who has been haunting her dreams. Unknown to the Malorys, deckhand Nathan Tremayne is a smuggler with a noose around his neck. Determined to carry out a covert mission in America that could gain him a pardon, Nathan senses that beautiful Judith Malory is trouble. Somehow the minx knows his secret—and now she’s blackmailing him into doing her bidding. While passions…

Best of 2019 Reviews, Part Two!
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Articles / December 29, 2019

NB: This week, we’re taking a look back at 2019. We’ve got a week of best-of posts to share, with reviews, cover snark, sales, and more. We hope you enjoy revisiting our archives, and most of all, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday and a happy new year – with all the very best of reading. … We have arrived to the official top five! Are you ready? I’ll give you a few minutes to place any last minute bets into the betting pool at which books are listed below. Aside from that, I want to get a little mushy and say thank you to all the readers who visit the site every day. Whether you’ve been here for a couple months or nearly all of our fifteen years on the internet, we so appreciate you being here. The community wouldn’t the same without your suggestions, you engagement, and of course, your book recommendations. Top five, here we go! … A | BN | K | AB 5. Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean (July 29) Review by Carrie Grade: A This book is funny, sexy, and empathetic towards its characters. It does tend towards the melodramatic so…

Smart Bitches Happy Hanukkah Giveaway 2019 – Night Eight!
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Articles / December 29, 2019

Happy Hanukkah, 2019! Tonight is the final night of Hanukkah! Time to clean the wax off the menorot, finish off the latkes, and possibly make smores with all that heat from the candles. And, it means we have one last giveaway. Ready? Let’s do this! Today’s prize is: a Kate Spade Ellie Small tote in Anthracite. I have to tell you, I liked this bag so much I bought one for myself, and I really, really love it. It’s shiny and silver, it’s very lightweight, it stands up on its own, and it has a nifty zipper pocket on the side of the larger zipper for my phone. I hope you like it just as much! Of course I have pics! Hot diggity, a top view. You can see the second zipper in this picture: I love that feature. Want some specs? The bag measures approximately 10″H x 11″ W x 4″D It has an adjustable crossbody strap drop length of 22″. The top zips closed – and has a second zip pocket you might have heard me mention. The interior has two slide pockets, and one zipper pocket. Want to enter? Yay! Just leave a comment telling us the book…

Best of 2019 Reviews, Part One!
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Articles / December 28, 2019

NB: This week, we’re taking a look back at 2019. We’ve got a week of best-of posts to share, with reviews, cover snark, sales, and more. We hope you enjoy revisiting our archives, and most of all, we wish you and yours a wonderful holiday and a happy new year – with all the very best of reading. … We’re counting down the best of our 2019 reviews and boy, there were a lot. Counting down from ten, these are the first five reviews in terms of page views. There are some definite surprises in six through ten, and I honestly think this five is a motley crew compared to the top five. Let’s get counting! … A | BN | K | AB 10. Wicked Saints by Emily. A. Duncan (April 4) Review by Amanda Grade: B+ Wicked Saints is a young adult fantasy debut and it’s a goth kid’s dream. Seriously, if you have a thing for anti-heroes, dark magic, and things that are simply metal as fuck, this book is for you. There are some issues that are common in first books of a fantasy series. It took some time to familiarize myself with the world and the…