Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: After Care by L.B. Dunbar

 After Care

by L.B. Dunbar

What do you get when you cross a breast cancer survivor with a sexy, mature man….


Breast cancer survivor Edie Williams is ready to live.

Divorced. Mother of two.

She’s planned the vacation of a lifetime for a reboot,

only to encounter an awakening adventure—Tommy Carrigan.

Manager of the band Collision, Tommy Carrigan has his plate full.

Independent. Carefree.

He’s on an annual holiday with his band family,

when the unexpected happens—Edie Williams.

Love might be just what the doctor prescribed,

but can it survive the world of rock-n-roll?

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

I was forty-three. I should have been in the prime of my life. Where was that sexual libido return everyone promised me would happen? Oh, right, it walked out the door with a younger model—blonde, thin, and cancer-free under her skin.

Marriage was hard work. One in two marriages still ended in divorce. I wasn’t a statistic; I was a trend.

When leaving the hospital, aftercare was always part of the experience. What you did after—the procedure, the treatment, the incision that cut deep. However, nothing could have prepared me for how I’d take care of myself after Tommy Carrigan. There was no list, no instruction manual online at patient dot com for matters of the heart.

I just want to be close to you… No one’s ever talked like that about me, and I just want to capture it for a little while. I want to hold onto it, if I can. For just a little bit.

I bet you’re used to leather and lace, and I’m one-hundred percent cotton.

You’ll never be an excuse, darlin’. Always my reason.

My Review:

Being an, ahem, mature woman on the plus side of forty, I couldn’t help but notice that bookstores have a rather limited selection of engaging offerings featuring vibrant and appealing main characters within my demographic of a platinum-haired goddess.  Interesting female characters of my age tend to be written as secondary players, and most typically are the younger heroine’s indulgent or eccentric auntie.  With this in mind, I found L.B. Dunbar’s After Care to be a refreshing and welcome change of pace and have a deliriously gleeful urge to erect an altar of pink typewriters in her honor.  Not only were her characters highly appealing and alluring, they were smart and well seasoned. The premise was unique and relevant while the storylines were multi-layered, well-crafted, and wily.  However, the writing wins the blue-ribbon prize as Ms. Dunbar’s word-craft was delightfully textured and insightful, witty, thoughtfully observant, hit all the feels, and sizzled and snapped with sensuality.  I was quickly invested in the tale and remained happily engaged throughout.  Ms. Dunbar has a new fangirl.  

Empress DJ

If you enjoyed The Sex Education of M.E., you’ll love After Care, another romance for the over-forty from L.B. Dunbar. Continue the adventure previously published in Love Notes, the newsletter of L.B. Dunbar.

Avid drinker of Coca-Cola, L.B. Dunbar loves the sweet things in life. Her affair with all things romantic began with her first book at the tender age of six: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. One can never forget her first! From there, the reading journey includes a deep love of fairy tales, medieval knights, regency debauchery, and alpha males. She loves a deep belly laugh and a strong hug. Occasionally, she has the energy of a Jack Russell terrier. Accused, yes, that’s the correct word, of having an overactive imagination; to her benefit, such an imagination works well. Author of over a dozen novels, she’s created small town worlds, rock star mayhem, and MMA chaos. Her other duties in life include: mother to four growing children and wife to the one and on

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review, Giveaway: RUNAWAY GROOM I Do, I Don't - Book 2 - by Lauren Layne

“Lauren Layne gets the red rose for this one, and fans of The Bachelor will fall in love with this thoroughly charming story.”—Kate O’Keeffe, bestselling author

I Do, I Don't - Book 2
Lauren Layne
Releasing Jan 30, 2018

For one charming playboy, getting cast on a Bachelor-esque reality TV show is the shock of a lifetime—until he finds love where he least expects it.

Gage Barrett’s reputation as a ladies’ man has been greatly exaggerated, but none of that matters after a drunken bet lands him on Jilted, a reality TV show that matches runaway grooms with wannabe brides. Now he’s stuck at a Hawaiian resort with nineteen women competing to drag him back to the altar—and one contestant who’s even more miserable than he is. Gage has no idea how feisty, independent Ellie Wright wound up in the cast, but it’s obvious she hates his guts. And if there’s one thing Gage likes, it’s a challenge. . . .

Ellie can’t believe she let her best friend talk her into exchanging her dignity for a glorified bikini contest. Still, she could use the exposure—her business is struggling—and she’ll probably be one of the first to get eliminated anyway. But Gage isn’t the shallow jerk Ellie anticipated—and he’s in no rush to send her home. As stolen kisses turn into secret trysts, she finds herself losing track of what’s real and what’s for the camera. With the wedding finale looming, this runaway groom is tempting Ellie to start believing in storybook endings.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

I was one of the few noncrazies in the early stages. One woman carried her pet turtle strapped to her chest. Another woman was stressing about whether the producers would want to count her dual personalities as one contestant or two.

Twenty-one. My life has come to this— being known as a number. I’m surprised they don’t tag my ear.

They’ve told me to pace myself, but that started to get hard when contestant number six told me (and the rest of America) that her hobbies include Brazilian waxes and flossing, and so help me God, I don’t even know if she was talking about her teeth.

But once, just once, I want someone I care about to look at the crapshoot that is my life, to take in the Jilted contract and the Killboy movie shoots and the never-ending tabloid rumors and say, “Yeah, that stuff sucks, but Gage is worth it.” I want to be worth it. Just once.

My Review:

What fun!  Runaway Groom is destined to be a runaway hit.  Packed with smart snarky humor, witty banter, poignant insights, and steamy love scenes, this rom-com is one of Ms. Layne’s best.  The story was highly amusing, unfailingly entertaining, and well written with a dual POV.  I may require Botox if I continue to follow this author as my face seems to maintain a near constant smirk while reading her clever arrangements of words.

Empress DJ


Lauren Layne is the New York Times bestselling author of romantic comedies. She lives in New York City with her husband.

A former e-commerce and web marketing manager from Seattle, Lauren relocated to New York City in 2011 to pursue a full-time writing career. She signed with her agent in 2012, and her first book was published in summer of 2013. Since then, she's written over two dozen books, hitting the USA TODAY, New York Times, iBooks, and Amazon bestseller lists.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Book Review: Don't Be Afraid by C.A. Harms

Don't Be Afraid

by C.A. Harms 

Have you ever looked at someone and just knew,
knew that they were put in your life for a reason?
The one person that would be not only your best friend, but would be your absolute everything?
That’s how I felt the first time I saw him.

That one day when a few little words changed our entire lives forever…

Don’t be Afraid, he said.
Life can change so quickly.
One moment you can be smiling and feeling as if you're walking on clouds and the next, everything you love, everything you treasure crumbles at your feet.

I told him to fight, I told him I needed him.
We needed him.
But there are just some fights that can't be won…

He was my angel then, and he’s still my angel now.
In a way, I believe he’s still looking out for us, giving us a future.
Sometimes it’s as if I can still feel his presence,
guiding us and keeping us safe.

So, I won’t be Afraid.
I'll live. I’ll fight.
It’s what he would have wanted.

I’ll do it for him…

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

I’m scared… I don’t know how to be me without you.

Miss him, fall apart. I’m here to pick you up, I promise.

He knew I couldn’t help but fall in love with you. How could anyone not see the beauty inside you and be weakened by it?

I promised her pancakes and eggs… There may have been a mention of chocolate chips too… What? Isn’t it in the aunt handbook that I should spoil my one and only niece every single chance I get?

My Review:

While the premise was relevant and predictable, the exceptional quality, depth, and poignancy of Ms. Harm’s writing, as well as the complexity of the explored emotions shared by the characters, were not; and those were the unexpected treasures I gleaned from this heartrending tale.  The storylines were robust with all the feels, agony, fear, love, grief, satisfaction, levity, despair, elation, and completion.  Tears were often close and on more than one occasion my eyes stung while my throat constricted and burned, and my chest tightened with threats of an ugly cry.  And while I typically prefer to eschew that phenomenon, this thoughtfully written and engaging story was more than worth my distress.  

Empress DJ

About The Author


C.A. Harms

I am an Illinois girl, born and raised. Simple and true. I love the little things; they truly mean the most. I may have a slight addiction to my new Keurig—oh my, that thing is a godsend. And so fast too. I have two children who truly are the greatest part of my days, and their faces never fail to put a smile on my face. I have been married to my best friend for seventeen years, and looking forward to many more.
I am one of those authors that adore my readers. I love to hear from you. After all, it is because of each one of you that I continue to write.


- Newsletter -

Book Review: We Were One (Looking Glass #2) by Elizabeth Reyes

We Were One 

(Looking Glass #2)

by Elizabeth Reyes 

The mystery of love is greater than the mystery of death.
~Oscar Wilde~

Adoration is not profound enough a word to express the depth of my love for her. From the moment she walked into my life and set my heart and soul on fire, not a day's gone by that she hasn't plagued my every thought.

We were each other's completion. She was everything I wasn't--the sigh to my roar, the virtue to my sin, the cure to my wounds.

We Were One.

Until the unthinkable happened.

That I've survived such a tragedy without having completely lost it, is a mystery in itself. But as my mind starts to blur the lines between reality and my delusional heart, I begin to question everything, including my sanity.

And then the real mystery begins . . . 

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

I had enough female company to keep me busy to put any more thought into the off-limits twin and her shotgun-toting mother.

If she wanted to listen to an asshole, she would’ve farted.

The times between seeing or hearing from her felt almost intolerable. Whipped didn’t even begin to cover how I was feeling.

My Review:

This book was seventy percent heartbreak and an angst-fest, yet I couldn’t seem to leave it alone and kept picking my Kindle back up while groaning at myself for being so weak.  I missed the humor and taut suspense from the first book and angst is just not my friend, but an intriguing story definitely is and I just couldn't quit it.  Elizabeth Reyes must have studied up on some of those magical dark arts, as despite all that floundering in Nico’s morose misery, I had to know how the missing pieces would come together for the conclusion.  Retreading several of the same scenes from the first book in the series but now from Nico’s POV helped me recall important details that I had since forgotten and further plucked at my curiosity.  Nico and Maddie’s actual time together had been relatively short before her fatal accident, but their relationship had been passionate, all-consuming, and soul deep.  So much so that Nico’s despair felt like an added character.  I enjoyed the ending and with a sigh of relief was glad I stayed the course but now find I am already bedeviled by the intriguing glimpse of the next installment featuring Nico’s brother.  Sigh… 

Empress DJ

About the Author

Elizabeth Reyes



Elizabeth Reyes is a USA Today Best Selling Author of The Moreno Brothers, 5th Street, Fate and Desert Heat romance series.

Join the fun and become a royal member of TeamReyes and enjoy the perks of early announcements, cover reveals teasers, including exclusive teasers, shared only the group. Along with exclusive team, giveaways, discussions, trivia, Secret Santa and much much more!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Book Review, Giveaway: All of You by Lindsay Detwiler

Title: All of You
Author: Lindsay Detwiler
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 27, 2018
Cover Designer: Soxsational Cover Art

 Add to TBR


Amazon: US | UK | CA | AU

There’s no such thing as impossible when it comes to saving the one who holds your heart. 

A sexy doctor who’s restricted by expectations.

A quirky poet who’s defined by her dark past.

All it takes is Alex Evans saving Marley Jade one fateful night for their futures to be realigned. And when a passion sparks between them, they must decide if they can piece each other back together and make love work.

My Rating:

Favorite Quotes:

You know, not all men are the devil. Look at me. I’m not half bad.

He’s everything I’d never imagine my heart fluttering for… I’m more of a Wednesday Adams person, while he seems to be more like a Ward Cleaver. A very sexy, tempting Ward Cleaver, at that. Not that I’m judging. Okay, I’m judging

This black-haired, Converse sneakers girl has snagged the sexy, supersmart doctor. I don’t know how the hell it happened, but I think he’s under my super odd, not-so-charming spell.

I’m usually pretty low-maintenance because, well, when you live in a town with about five eligible bachelors, all of whom you’ve already slept with at one point and decided against, looking like a cover girl isn’t exactly a priority.

My Review:

All Of You was a quick, easy to follow, emotive, and heart squeezing story with a sweet and transformative romance between admirable and endearing characters.  Written from a dual POV the premise straddled several genres and could be considered part New Adult, women’s fiction, small-town, contemporary romance, and family drama; although all that doesn’t really matter to me as I mainly consider it a well written, entertaining, and engaging read.  The storylines were realistic, well constructed, and held my interest and attention throughout.   I enjoyed and cared about the characters and wanted to know all about them.  Marley was a bit offbeat for her small-town.  She was tattooed, converse clad, clever, and partially broken yet sweet and easily lovable.  I was quickly drawn to her and remained quite curious throughout while the wily writer gradually revealed their tragic family secrets at a tantalizing pace, which kept me intrigued and eager for each new tidbit.  Alex was the perfect book boyfriend although both characters produced a new and improved version of each other by the book’s satisfying conclusion.  Sigh, they have inspired me today, I seem to be looking forward to the next rainstorm and am even considering pulling out my long mothballed kayak.  Miraculous!

Empress DJ


Amazon: US | UK | CA | AU
Kobo | iTunes | Nook

A high school English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink and/or glittery, Lindsay's the English teacher cliché; she love cats, reading, Shakespeare, and Poe.

She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, and Bob; and their Mastiff, Henry.

Lindsay's goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows she's done her job.

Lindsay's hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

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