Spotlight on The Way to a Duke’s Heart by Caroline Linden

Charles de Lacey, Lord Gresham, is running out of time, running from his responsibilities, and running from love.

Destined to be a duke, Charles de Lacey has led a life of decadent pleasure, free of any care for propriety or responsibility. It comes as a terrible shock to learn that he might be stripped of everything, thanks to his father’s scandalous past. He has no choice but to find the blackmailer who would ruin him—and his only link to the villain is a woman who may be part of the plot…

To save his fortune and title, he vows he’ll stop at nothing—in fact, he’s all too eager to unravel the beautiful, tart-tongued Tessa Neville. She intrigues him and tempts him like no other lady ever has. With only his heart to guide him, and keenly aware that his entire future is at stake, Charles must decide: is she the woman of his dreams, or an enemy in disguise?

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The Way to a Duke’s Heart by Caroline Linden is one of several Avon romances that are part of the K.I.S.S. and Teal campaign in support of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Other titles/authors are:

The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

Nightwatcher by Wendy Corsi Staub

The Look of Love by Mary Jane Clark

A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare

Chosen by Sable Grace

Sins of a Virgin by Anna Randol

For more information:

Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

Title:  Heads in Beds – A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality

Author:  Jacob Tomsky

Genre:  Memoir

Published:  November 2012 – Doubleday

Synopsis (partial):  In the tradition of Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant, a rollicking, eye-opening, fantastically indiscreet memoir of a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry.

Jacob Tomsky has worked in hotels for more than a decade, doing everything from valet parking to manning the front desk. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room service, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late check out, given you a wake-up call, eaten M&Ms out of your mini-bar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. And in Heads in Beds, he pulls back the curtain on the hospitality business, revealing the crazy yet compelling reality of an industry we think we know. It is an incredibly funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life and boy, is there a market for it: in 2010, the American lodging industry generated $127.7 billion in revenue.  Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on the valet parking garage, and the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets.

My take:  Heads in Beds is an interesting peek into the world of Hospitality. In the beginning I found Jacob Tomsky’s memoir entertaining and edgy but by the time I turned the last page I was ready to be done.

I grew tired of the almost whiny tone and the F-bomb laced stories about how and why the upscale hotel’s guests might receive upgrades or be treated poorly. I understand that he and his co-workers feel underpaid but it just seemed wrong that guests who are already paying high rates must pony up extra cash to ensure good service. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem tipping (and always do) after receiving good service. And the valet parking stories? More like horror stories!

That said, I think people who work in the Hospitality industry will enjoy this memoir. They will probably relate to the tales of working in the various areas of hotels from valet and bellman to housekeeping and laundry to the front desk. Tomsky also shares hints on how to improve your stay at a hotel. My hint: if you ever stay at his hotel, take lots of $20s!

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review.

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Title: The Sandcastle Girls

Author: Chris Bohjalian

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published: July 2012 – Doubleday

Hardcover – 320 pages

Synopsis: (from the book flap) When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke College, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The First World War is spreading across Europe, and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There, Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo to join the British Army in Egypt, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.

Flash forward to the present, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents’ ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed the “Ottoman Annex,” Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura’s grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

My take: I want to thank John Pitts from Doubleday for sending me a copy of this important novel. Important because I wonder how many people actually know about the Armenian Genocide that occurred in the early 20th century. I don’t recall learning about it in a high school world history class. This book is why I like to read Historical Fiction. Yes, I love a good story but I also like to learn.

The Sandcastle Girls was a difficult book to read because of the atrocities inflicted on the Armenian people. Despite how difficult it was to read, I cared about Bohjalian’s characters as they lived day to day, event to event, moment to moment. Aleppo came alive with the descriptions of sights, smells and sounds giving me a definite sense of the town. The scenes of atrocities both in war and the genocide are vivid. I point that out because it might be too much for some readers. That said, I don’t know how the book could not include those scenes.

In any case, the short answer to that first question – How do a million and a half people die with nobody knowing? – is really very simple. You kill them in the middle of nowhere.

The Sandcastle Girls page 273

The story is told by Laura, a writer and the granddaughter of the two main characters. She writes the story of her grandparents which becomes part of Bohjalian’s novel. The past and present are woven together and come to an emotional conclusion.

I recommend this book to fans of Historical Fiction and Chris Bohjalian.

Note: You can read more about The Sandcastle Girls at Chris Bohjalian’s website.

Disclosure: I received a book for review from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.

Wild Texas Rose by Jodi Thomas

Title:  Wild Texas Rose

A Whispering Mountain Novel

Author:  Jodi Thomas

Genre:  Historical Romance

Published:  August 2012 – Berkley

Paperback – 320 pages

Synopsis:  (back of the book) Twenty-five-year-old Rose McMurray may be beautiful, smart, and capable of running her family’s ranch at Whispering Mountain, but she’s backed away from marriage three times without giving anyone reasons. Everyone thinks she is a coward, afraid of any adventure, including falling in love. She’s never done a single wild or reckless thing in her life…until now.

Duncan McMurray, like Rose, was adopted into the family. As a Texas Ranger, he swears he’ll never settle down and marry. He’s been Rose’s guardian angel since they were kids but for the first time in their lives he’s the one who has caused her to be in danger. Somehow, he has to protect her from an outlaw gang determined to kill her without letting Rose know of the danger she’s in. He’s convinced that her heart can’t take the stress if she knows…the only question is can his heart take the nearness of her.

When opposites collide the adventure begins…

My take:  Jodi Thomas’s historical romances take me back to when I was a kid and loved to watch tv westerns such as The Wild, Wild West. In this book I really made that connection because trains and bad guys figure prominently in the plot. There’s also the smart, brave and handsome hero who is intent on saving the smart, brave and beautiful heroine 🙂

As I’ve come to expect in her historicals as well as contemporaries, Thomas populated this book with interesting and sympathetic supporting characters. From chapter to chapter she wove their stories with the main plot which combined to form an entertaining novel that was hard to put down!

I recommend Wild Texas Rose to fans of western historical romance and Jodi Thomas.

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher. I was not compensated for my review.

Ninepins by Rosy Thornton

Title:  Ninepins

Author:  Rosy Thornton

Genre:  Fiction

Published:  April 2012 – Sandstone Press

Paperback – 320 pages

My take:  As she did in The Tapestry of Love, Rosy Thornton gives her most recent novel Ninepins an interesting setting that could almost be considered one of the main characters. The changing atmosphere of the fens fascinated me!

Ninepins is a quiet yet compelling novel. Laura and her 12-year-old daughter Beth take in 17-year-old Willow as a boarder to help make ends meet. Willow is just coming out of the foster care system so she has a social worker, Vince, who regularly checks in on her. Willow seems emotionally fragile and has a troubled past. Beth is dealing with a few issues herself. She’s at a new school, trying out new friends, and is pretty much a hormonal mess. The latter causes her to take out her frustrations on her mother.

Laura learns of Willow’s past after she agrees to let her rent the small pump house on the property. She’s willing to let her stay because she’d have trouble renting the space to anyone else at this time of year. When a flood forces Willow out of the rental she’s invited to stay in the spare room of the main house. Laura has concerns about Willow’s influence over Beth who recently seems to be acting out quite often. Even more disturbing is when Willow’s mother appears at the front door one night. Laura suddenly has a lot to deal with in addition to working full-time.

Rosy Thornton’s layered story of Willow, Laura and Beth unfolds at an even pace that kept me turning the pages. Assumptions and suspicions are revealed and play out in ways I’m happy to say were unpredictable. That’s something I’ve found true in Thornton’s other novels as well.

Ninepins is a thoughtful and realistic drama that touches on single parents, step-families, social welfare issues and more – book groups would find several topics for discussion. I enjoyed Ninepins and look forward to Rosy Thornton’s next book.

Goodreads rating

Disclosure:  I received a review copy from the author. I was not compensated for my review.

A Girl Like You by Maria Geraci

Title:  A Girl Like You

Author:  Maria Geraci

Genre:  Chick Lit

Published:  August 2012 – Berkley

Trade Paperback – 320 pages

Synopsis:  Emma Frazier is smart, hardworking, and loves her job as a journalist for a Florida lifestyle magazine. Emma knows she’s no great beauty, but she’s pretty certain she has a shot with her handsome new boss, Ben Gallagher—until Emma overhears a mutual acquaintance refer to her as the “ugly friend.” In an effort to reclaim her battered self-esteem, Emma decides to impress Ben at work by promising an exclusive interview with NASCAR legend, Trip Monroe.

Emma and Trip went to high school together and although it’s been fourteen years since they’ve spoken, Emma is certain she can score an interview with the elusive super star. But connecting with Trip turns out to be harder than Emma imagined. Her quest for the interview leads her back to her tiny hometown of Catfish Cove, where old secrets and a new romantic interest shake up Emma’s views on life and teach her that maybe the key to finding true love is as simple as accepting yourself for the person you were always meant to be.

My take:  I’ll just go ahead and start by saying A Girl Like You is the most enjoyable Chick Lit I’ve read in a long, long time. Whether you’re in the genre target age or not (I’m clearly not) Emma Frazier is a character most female readers will find relatable. She doesn’t consider herself perfect (in beauty, weight, etc.) but she has a fairly good sense of herself that I found endearing and made me want to cheer for her as she navigates the path of relationships.

That said, the night she overhears someone refer to her as “the ugly friend”  – meaning she makes her other friends look better, she starts to question herself. She goes home where her moms (yes she has two moms) give her unconditional love and support. She also runs into a former classmate whom she’d had a crush on back in high school. He does a lot for her self-esteem. Emma goes back to her apartment and job a few hours away where she still has a crush on her boss. In hopes of impressing him she offers to get the interview of the year with another former classmate who has hit it big on the NASCAR circuit. He’s almost impossible to track down so Emma has her work cut out for her. Will she be able to get the interview, impress her boss, and maybe fall in love? You’ll have to read to find out 🙂

Maria Geraci has a new fan in me! I read this novel in just a few hours because I couldn’t put it down. Her writing style is so easy and smooth (addicting, some might say). And I liked the humor she injected along the way. Like I said earlier, I was cheering for Emma all the way – and I wasn’t even sure how it would or should end. Geraci threw in a few small twists that kept me wondering. I liked that.

So, if you like Chick Lit and you’re looking for a good book to read anywhere, I can enthusiastically recommend A Girl Like You!

Disclosure:  I received a review copy from the publicist for the blog tour. I was not compensated for my review. Please see sidebar for full disclosure policy.

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Maria Geraci’s website; Facebook; Twitter

About the author:

Maria Geraci was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised on Florida’s Space Coast. Her love of books started with the classic Little Women (a book she read so often growing up, she could probably quote it). She lives with her husband and their three children in north Florida where she works as a part-time labor and delivery nurse by night and a full-time romance writer during the day.