Lessons From The Prairie by Melissa Francis

Description:  Melissa Francis was eight years old when she won the role of a lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls on the world’s most famous prime-time soap opera, Little House on the Prairie. 

Now, in the trade paperback of her wildly popular LESSONS FROM THE PRAIRIE: The Surprising Secrets to Happiness, Success and (Sometimes Just) Survival I Learned on America’s Favorite Show (Hachette Books; paperback on-sale April 3rd, 2018), Melissa shares behind-the-scenes stories from the set, along with inspirational and practical life lessons learned throughout her career. With a refreshing take on being a busy mom, Melissa offers her own mantra on how to balance everything: “Don’t ‘Lean In.’ In fact, sit down and take a load off!”

“I’ve taken more than a few pies to the face,” says Melissa,now a Fox News anchor. “Along the way, I’ve come to realize that many of the tools I needed to clean myself up, I learned in those few precious years on the Prairie. Read along and you’ll get the benefit of the laughs and lessons, without the whipped cream.”

A hilariously candid and brilliantly effective self-help book, Melissa shares her five-step recipe for turning disaster into golden opportunity, the critical upside of staying positive (nice guys/gals finish first!), how she wrangles the demands of motherhood with a full-time career (figure out what you really want), the role of faith (miracles do happen!), and how she’s learned not to care what anyone else thinks (show them your cellulite!)—all while peeling back the curtains on the legendary Little House series.

Melissa keeps readers laughing as she details her less-than-glamorous road into television journalism, revealing her tricks to break into the industry and how she finally got her big break—only to blow it and get fired! That’s when she learned her most powerful lesson: how to turn disaster into a golden opportunity. She shares those brilliant but easy steps in these pages. Building on her own experiences and the life lessons she’s learned over the years, Francis offers readers advice on resiliency, reinvention, and most of all the ability to laugh heartily at your own flaws.

Whether you’re a fan of her television work past or present, you’ll roar at Melissa’s unique brand of self- deprecating humor and walk away from Lessons from the Prairie with the tools to lead a happier and more successful life.  (publisher)

My take: Melissa Francis shares her road to becoming a television journalist in her memoir Lessons From The Prairie – now out in paperback. I missed the Little House on the Prairie series because I was in college and then a young mom during those years. I’ve watched grown-up Melissa Francis on the business channel she currently works for and find her way of explaining economic information to clear and concise. I don’t read many celebrity memoirs but I found hers to be entertaining and informative and appreciated her candor. I thought her easy writing style made her relatable – especially early on when she sought her first post-graduation job. Lessons From The Prairie is a ‘how I did it’ memoir that I can recommend.

About the author:

Broadcast journalist Melissa Francis is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter. She is an anchor on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, and a regular contributor on financial, economic, and political issues on shows such as The Five, Outnumbered, Happening Now, and America’s Newsroom, among others. As an actress, she appeared in numerous motion pictures, television series, and more than a hundred television commercials; she is best known for her role as Michael Landon’s daughter, Cassandra Cooper Ingalls, on Little House on the Prairie. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics degree from Harvard University and lives in Manhattan with her husband and their three children.


Hachette Books | Paperback | April 3, 2018 | 272 pages ISBN-13: 978-1602863170

Praise for Lessons from the Prairie

“Melissa Francis’s Lessons from the Prairie is a busy mom’s manifesto—candid and commonsense, insightful, laugh-out-loud funny. A refreshing reality check for working moms who love their jobs as well as their families, and won’t compromise their happiness.” — Mika Brzezinski, bestselling author of Knowing Your Value and co-host of “Morning Joe”

“Touching and brave, heart breaking and inspirational…I simply loved it.” “Melissa Francis’ Lessons from the Prairie delivers one belly laugh after another as she tees up an easy to follow, step-by-step guide to tackling the toughest challenges that dog each of us. She charmingly turns personal disasters into hilarious anecdotes that will seem all too familiar to every reader, then follows with a clever take away to make your life happier. What a fun way to share the wisdom she gained growing up before our eyes on the Prairie.” — Megyn Kelly, NBC News anchor






The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship by Lisa Verge Higgins

Title: The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship

Author: Lisa Verge Higgins

Genre: Fiction

About: (Goodreads partial synopsis) Rachel Braun was the inspiration to her group of friends, the one who lived each day to the fullest – and the one whose life was cut tragically short. Upon her untimely death, Rachel left letters for her three best friends challenging them to face their biggest fears. (for more click here)

My thoughts: I think most women could relate to Lisa Verge Higgins’ enjoyable and heartfelt story of friendship.  The three thirty-something women are accomplished in their own lives but Rachel saw that they could be living even better lives if their perspective was tweaked.  The intent of her letters was to give them each a specific assignment to get out of their comfort zone. That’s how she lived her life and she wanted to nudge them one more time. As they tackle Rachel’s last wishes each woman realizes she’s been going through the paces of everyday life but perhaps not appreciating the joy of what’s right in front of her.  In the end, as they accomplish their friend’s requests, the fresh perspective gained has the effect Rachel intended.

Recommendation: Yes. It’s an entertaining novel and I’m glad I had the chance to read it.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Source: Hachette Book Group

5 Ingredient Fix by Claire Robinson – Weekend Cooking

at Beth Fish Reads


From the book blurb: Claire Robinson – host of Food Network’s 5 Ingredient Fix – is here to help you get dinner on the table with minimal fuss and just a few great ingredients.

With everyone struggling to streamline and budget, Claire’s recipes make preparing delicious meals a snap.  Showing you how to choose the right ingredients along with a little culinary know-how is her specialty.  According to Claire, cooking doesn’t have to be complicated to be impressive:  Simplifying the process with fewer ingredients saves time, frustration, and, ultimately, money.

My thoughts: When I first saw the title of this beautiful cookbook I thought it seemed like a good one for me.  5 Ingredient Fix covers all meals as well as cocktails and various dinner courses.  The author imparts her philosophy of cooking with fewer ingredients and also lists which basics every kitchen warrior should own. There is a section titled Menu Ideas For Memorable Meals which groups recipes from the book into meals.

The photography is gorgeous and made me want to try several recipes. I must say that some of the ingredients are not staples I would normally find in my pantry or refrigerator so preparation is key.  After browsing the recipes I decided to make:


Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Basil Butter

1 large spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds)

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

8 large basil leaves, sliced

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus more for serving

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Preheat the oven to 375°

Halve the squash through the stem and remove the seeds.  Season with salt and pepper and roast cut side up on baking sheet until completely soft, about 1 hour. Let cool slightly and, with a fork, shred the squash flesh from the shell and transfer to a serving dish.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the pine nuts and basil to a paste.  Add the butter and cheese and pulse to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Serve the squash warm with soft butter on the side to dollop on each serving.



Tim and I agreed that it’s a tasty side dish.  I think the star of the recipe is the Basil Butter.  The combination of the basil, pine nuts and cheese is wonderfully flavorful. Some of the ingredients are on the expensive side – I had no idea about the price of pine nuts!  Despite the cost, I would definitely make this recipe again.




Claire Robinson is the host of Food Network’s 5 Ingredient Fix and Food Network Challenge.  She cites her French-speaking grandmother as a major influence on her love for food.  Claire graduated from the French Culinary Institute, is an accomplished private chef, and has worked on culinary production teams for several cooking series, including Food Network’s Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

She’s Gone Country by Jane Porter

She's Gone Country

When Shey Darcy’s marriage ends she takes her kids home to Texas where they’ll be surrounded by her family.  Problems don’t magically disappear with the move and she finds herself facing new issues.  Her oldest son wants to go back to New York and his old school.  Her middle son is fighting depression and her youngest wants to learn how to ride bulls.  And if all that isn’t enough she sees a lot more of Dane – the guy who used to be her crush more than twenty years earlier.

I thought Jane Porter did a good job addressing the usual concerns of a family going through divorce.  While not delving real deep she didn’t gloss over them either.  Her characters are real – they have flaws and struggles.  The supporting characters (Shey’s brothers and mother) have a lot going on in their lives as well.  Porter gives enough glimpse into each that it’s easy to understand their motivation relative to Shey.

I enjoyed the story and the pace.  It was a quick read and an entertaining novel.  This is the first book by Porter that I’ve read and I look forward to reading her backlist.  I recommend She’s Gone Country.   A reading group guide is included.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken

The I Hate to Cook Book: 50th Anniversary Edition

“There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who don’t cook out of and have NEVER cooked out of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK, and the other kind…The I HATE TO COOK people consist mainly of those who find other things more interesting and less fattening, and so they do it as seldom as possible. Today there is an Annual Culinary Olympics, with hundreds of cooks from many countries ardently competing. But we who hate to cook have had our own Olympics for years, seeing who can get out of the kitchen the fastest and stay out the longest.” – Peg Bracken

Philosopher’s Chowder. Skinny Meatloaf. Fat Man’s Shrimp. Immediate Fudge Cake. These are just a few of the beloved recipes from Peg Bracken’s classic I HATE TO COOK BOOK. Written in a time when women were expected to have full, delicious meals on the table for their families every night, Peg Bracken offered women who didn’t revel in this obligation an alternative: quick, simple meals that took minimal effort but would still satisfy.

50 years later, times have certainly changed – but the appeal of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK hasn’t.

This book is for everyone, men and women alike, who wants to get from cooking hour to cocktail hour in as little time as possible.

* * * * * * *

I remember hearing buzz about The I Hate To Cook Book when I was a teen.  At the time I wondered why a cookbook would be titled as such but fast-forward a couple of decades and I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner for my family on a daily basis.  Looking back I wish I had Peg Bracken’s book in those days.

When I had a chance to review the 50th Anniversary edition of The I Hate To Cook Book I grabbed it.  Author Peg Bracken died in 2007 so her daughter Jo wrote the forward that tells about her mom and the book.  Following the forward is Peg’s introduction where she explained how and why the book came about. Bracken’s wit is apparent throughout the book making it an enjoyable read as well as a go-to reference.

Many of the recipes seemed familiar to me (maybe my mom had this book?).  They use ingredients found in most pantries such as cream of mushroom soup, canned vegetables, fruits, tuna, etc. The recipe directions are easy to follow.   Saturday Chicken (p.20-21) earned a thumbs up at my house.  (I added a small can of mushrooms to the recipe)

Saturday Chicken ingredients

Saturday Chicken

  • 1 cut-up fryer (or any 6 good-sized pieces of chicken)
  • salt and garlic salt
  • paprika
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup
  • 1 cup heavy cream (don’t cheat and use milk; the cream makes a lot of difference)
  • chopped parsley

Take your chicken and salt and garlic salt it a bit, then paprika it thoroughly.  Next, spread it out, in one layer, in a shallow baking pan.  Dilute the soup with the cream, pour it over the chicken, and sprinkle the chopped parsley prettily on top.  Bake it, uncovered, at 350 for one and a half hours.

Fresh out of the oven

Saturday Chicken (right) with baked potato and green beans

The chapters cover pretty much any type of dinner situation: Potluck Suppers; Company’s Coming; Luncheon for the Girls; Little Kids’ Parties.  Also included are helpful hints, equivalents, and substitutions.  I think The I Hate to Cook Book would be a great addition to any cookbook collection.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis

Dangerous Desires

After surviving a horrible childhood, a few years in a Columbian prison, and more time under the thumb of a crime lord, Madeline Reynard becomes the rescue subject of A-Tac (American Tactical Intelligence Command) – an off the books arm of the CIA.  She has information that can help the CIA, hurt the Columbian crime group, and may just get her killed unless A-Tac succeeds in their mission.  The A-Tac team is comprised of several highly-skilled professionals (covert operations, IT, ordnance, communications, etc.).  The author reveals enough about each A-Tac member to get a feel for their personality as well as their importance to the team.

The person most involved in Madeline’s rescue is Drake Flynn.  He’s the confident and capable guy anyone would want on their side. Even though he has questions about her connections to known criminals he keeps the mission his priority.  My favorite part of the novel was the escape of Drake and Madeline from the jungle to a safe house a day’s travel away on foot and small boat.  The action is fast-paced and had me turning pages long past my bedtime.

Davis’s action scenes are exciting.  Her descriptive writing placed me in the drama which I loved because sometimes when I’m reading suspense novels I get lost in the details. Davis had me following right through the heart-stopping conclusion.  If you like your romantic suspense heavy on the suspense  I recommend  Dangerous Desires.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

Countess of Scandal by Laurel McKee

Back of the book:
As children, Eliza Blacknall and William Denton ran wild over the fields of southern Ireland and swore they would be friends forever. Then fate took Will away to England, while Eliza stayed behind to become a proper Irish countess. Years later, Will finally makes his way home-as an English soldier sent to crush the Irish uprising. When he spies the lovely Eliza, he is captivated by the passionate woman she has become. But Eliza’s passions have led her to join the Irish rebel cause, and Will and Eliza now find themselves on opposite sides of a dangerous conflict. When Ireland explodes in bloody rebellion, Will’s regiment is ordered to the front lines, and he is forced to choose between his duty to the English king and his love for Eliza and their Irish homeland.

* * * * * *

Countess of Scandal takes place in 1790s Ireland. There is strife between the landowners and the Irish people. Will is torn between his love of Eliza and his duty to “family, to England, to our estate“. Eliza, also part of the aristocracy, has always been proud of Ireland. She was born there and considers herself Irish, not British. She will do anything to help the Irish people – even if it puts her in danger.

I thought there was a good balance of romance and conflict. Eliza is a strong heroine and Will, a good hero. I liked how Will’s inner conflict was resolved. I wasn’t sure how this British soldier would find a way to be with his seditious Countess but Laurel McKee made it happen.

This is the first book in The Daughters of Erin trilogy. I look forward to the next: Duchess of Sin (December, 2010).

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

Giveaway – Countess of Scandal


As children, Eliza Blacknall and William Denton ran wild over the fields of southern Ireland and swore they would be friends forever. Then fate took Will away to England, while Eliza stayed behind to become a proper Irish countess.

Years later, Will finally makes his way home-as an English soldier sent to crush the Irish uprising. When he spies the lovely Eliza, he is captivated by the passionate woman she has become. But Eliza’s passions have led her to join the Irish rebel cause, and Will and Eliza now find themselves on opposite sides of a dangerous conflict.
When Ireland explodes in bloody rebellion, Will’s regiment is ordered to the front lines, and he is forced to choose between his duty to the English king and his love for Eliza and their Irish homeland.

Listen to an excerpt.

Author website.

* * * * * * *
Giveaway Closed

5 copies of

Countess of Scandal

~ thanks to Hachette ~

* Open to residents of US and Canada
* No P.O. boxes
* Your email must be in your comment (required)

Giveaway ends January 23 at 8pm (eastern)
Winners will be announced Jan. 24

Giveaway Closed

To Desire a Devil – Blog Tour, Review, Giveaway

Back of the book:
After seven years in hellish captivity, Reynaud St. Aubyn busts into his ancestral home half mad with fever, demanding his due. Can this wild man truly be the last earl’s son, thought murdered by Indians?
Beatrice Corning is the niece of the present earl and a proper English miss. Yet she has a secret: No real man has ever excited her more than the handsome youth in a certain portrait. Now, suddenly, he’s here, in the flesh – and luring her into his bed.
Only Beatrice can see past Reynaud’s savage ways to the noble man inside. And Reynaud is drawn to this lovely lady, even as her loyalty to her uncle raises his suspicions. But can she tame a man who will stop at nothing to regain his title – even if it means sacrificing her innocence?

* * * * * * *

My thoughts:
Since the first book in The Legend of the Four Soldiers we’ve read about Reynaud St. Aubyn. When the four soldiers were fighting in the Colonies their unit was overtaken by a group of Indians. Most of the unit died but the four soldiers were captured and tortured. Three of them (the main characters of the previous three books) thought they witnessed the death of St. Aubyn. Throughout the series they’ve been searching for the traitor who tipped off the attackers where the soldiers would be on the fateful day. With the reappearance of St. Aubyn the four men resolve to find the traitor once and for all.

Another aspect of the novel is that Reynaud wants to reclaim his title which is now held by Beatrice’s uncle. She’s torn between her loyalty to the man who has raised her and her new love who she knows deserves his title. There’s political intrigue woven throughout the story, as well.

Elizabeth Hoyt wrote another exciting novel. I love her subtle and detailed character and setting descriptions. When I read her books I feel totally immersed in the story. To Desire a Devil was no exception. The romance between Reynaud and Beatrice was intense and sometimes startling. Hoyt is known for her wicked hot romantic scenes and it holds true in this book. There’s also an exciting dramatic sequence that made me wonder how the book would conclude. I’m sorry to see the series end. I recommend this book (and the rest of the series) to fans of Historical Romance.

visit ElizabethHoyt.com for more information

Review copy provided by Hachette Book Group


* * * * * * *

Hachette Book Group has allowed me to offer 5 copies of To Desire a Devil for a giveaway.

* Open to residents of US and Canada
* No PO Boxes

To enter:
Tell me why you’d like to win this book and then leave your name AND email all in one comment. That’s it! Remember: everything in one comment.

Contest ends Wednesday, Nov. 11th at 9pm (eastern)

Contest Closed

A Highlander’s Temptation by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Cover Image\

Back of the book:
Darroc MacConacher spends sleepless nights dreaming of a raven-haired beauty who makes him ache with desire. Then his dream comes true: the lady with her lush curves and fair skin appears shipwrecked on his shores. Darroc is immediately drawn to her strength and beauty, and from the moment she lays eyes on this powerful, broad-shouldered warrior, Lady Arabella MacKenzie knows she’ll never want another man.

But theirs is a forbidden love. The MacKenzies drove the MacConachers from their lands and destroyed their honor. Now, Darroc can use this sapphire-eyed seductress to shatter his foes. Yet how can he deny the passion that burns between him and Arabella, and ruin the one woman who touches his very soul?

* * * * * * *

(possible spoilers)

As I read A Highlander’s Temptation, the story of Romeo and Juliet came to mind. There’s no love lost between the MacKenzies and the MacConachers just as there was none between the Montagues and the Capulets. Darroc and Arabella meet in a most unusual way, overcome obstacles and become determined to marry. There is a sea adventure or two in the story which adds excitement to the novel.

This is the first I’ve read of this type of historical romance. There is a bit of magic and a whole lot of Scottish accent/words in the dialogue. At times, this really slowed the reading for me. I’m sure fans of Scottish romances would have no issue with it. I recommend it to fans of the genre.

Review copy provided by Hachette Book Group

Chocolate: A Love Story by Max Brenner

With gigantic vats of churning chocolate, desserts like their famous chocolate pizza, and 12 varieties of hot chocolate served in custom mugs, Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man has turned their line of hip, colorful themed restaurants into an international sensation..

Chocolate: A Love Story is a vibrant new cookbook that includes 65 original recipes narrated in the quirky, captivating voice of Max Brenner, the restaurant’s visionary founder and “bald man.” Bold original illustrations inspired by Art Deco poster graphics, full-color photographs, easy-to-follow, delicious recipes, and a serving of Max’s unique vision for spreading “chocolate culture” around the
world make this book a must for every chocolate lover.

* * * * * * *

This is the coolest cookbook I’ve ever seen! The artwork is fresh, the recipe titles make me laugh and I can’t wait to start baking. The book is coffee-table size and it would be a perfect coffee-table book. Chocolate: A Love Story truly is a feast for the eyes. However, it is a cookbook so it would go on the appropriate shelf in my kitchen – but facing out and maybe with a spotlight shining on it…

Max Brenner writes “I invite you to watch, smell, taste, and feel my love story.”

If you are a fan of chocolate, you’ll love this book. It would be a wonderful gift to give or receive.

I’ll close with a few recipe titles:

* Dependable Banana Cupcakes
with dark chocolate chunks and a moody coconut sugar glaze

* Spy-thriller Chocolate Black Forest Cake
covered with Alpine whipped cream and cherry, the German double agent on top

* A Therapeutic Chocolate Pot Pie
with a rich filling of soul-refreshing strawberries

* A High School Bonfire Chocolate Melting Heart Cake
with a soft marshmallow first memory hidden inside

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

Chosen By Desire by Kate Perry

It’s down to the wire and Carrie Woods is leaving China without the proof she needs for her thesis: Wei Lin’s journal. While on a final tour of the monastery, Carrie finally locates the scrolls and attempts to photograph the documents. Caught in a sticky situation, Carrie takes the scrolls, only to notice a mysterious monk watching her–the same monk that she’s seen each time she’s taken a tour. Unable to return the scrolls, she travels back to California and isn’t too thrilled when she notices the monk at the airport.

Maximillian Prescott first came to the monastery as an orphaned teenager when he inherited the Book of Metal from a distant uncle he hardly knew. After spotting a woman stealing from the monastery, he follows her to get back the documents he knows she’s stolen. Max is further intrigued when he finds out that the chatty woman is friends with his archrival, Rhys Llewellyn, and he will stop at nothing to get back everything he’s lost.

* * * * * * *

One of my goals this year is to take a tiny step out of my comfort zone of Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance, Historical Fiction, etc. So when Anna from Hachette Book Group offered Chosen By Desire for review I jumped at the chance.

Author Kate Perry wrote an entertaining novel. I enjoyed the humor as well as the drama throughout the story. I haven’t read any urban fantasy novels and, looking back now, I think this was a good book to try. It’s not too unbelievable. I found myself enjoying the romance between Carrie and Max, the mystery involving the scrolls, and the special powers possessed by Max and the other Guardians of Destiny.

When I finished the book I bought the first in the series: Marked By Passion. I look forward to reading about what happened before Carrie came into the picture. Recommended to fans of Urban Fantasy/Romance.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

How to Tame a Modern Rogue by Diana Holquist

How to Tame a Modern Rogue

Ally Giordano’s beloved grandmother actually believes that she’s living in her favorite romance novel in Regency England and Ally doesn’t have the heart to set her straight. But now Granny Donny’s last wish is for a retreat to the country and Ally can’t refuse her…until she demands that Sam Carson accompany them. And though his smiles turn her knees into jelly, Ally knows better than to trust a playboy…and she definitely knows better than to try to change one. Or does she?

* * * * * * *

Granny Donny wants to spend time at her home in the country outside of London – well, Long Island will have to do. AND she thinks Sam is the perfect suitor for her granddaughter Ally so he must accompany them to the country.

Ally has big trust issues so she refuses to consider a serious relationship with “rogue-ish” Sam. He has a wall around his true feelings – there’s no way he will consider a committed relationship ever again. Ally and Sam agree to pretend for Granny Donny’s sake. Let the fun begin!

I enjoyed reading this book. I found myself laughing out loud many times and caring about all of the characters. I loved the pace of the story and wasn’t ready for it to end when I turned the last page. I’ll be looking for more books by Diana Holquist.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the review copy – gave to a giveaway winner
Read on my Kindle

So Into You by Sandra Hill

Cover Image
Angel Sabato has been in love with best friend Grace O’Brien for 10 years–but he’s only just realized it. Too bad she doesn’t take him seriously when he tells her about his feelings. Now Grace is left to wonder if her problems from the past are keeping her from opening herself to love. But she brushes these “useless” musings aside, concentrating instead on the work she’s doing as an apprentice to folk healer Tante Lulu and keeping up with the old woman’s good deeds. Unbeknownst to Grace, Tante Lulu has decided to try her hand at matchmaking again. And Tante Lulu has never failed before!
“SO INTO YOU delivers a punch packed with southern charm, romance, and fun-filled hilarity.” —BookPleasures.com
Also available in e-book.

Download the short story prequel, SAVING SAVANNAH.

Watch the video.
Visit Sandra Hill’s website.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: This is the first book I’ve read by Sandra Hill and I can tell you it won’t be the last. So Into You is a fast-paced and funny novel. I enjoyed the story of Grace and Angel but the true star is Tante Lulu. What a hoot! I laughed out loud at the things that came out of her mouth.

Grace and Angel share a true passion for each other. They just choose not to act on it for a few (frustrating) reasons. Tante Lulu will have none of that and she invokes St. Jude (her go-to saint) to set the wheels of love in motion. And don’t even try to stay out of the way. It won’t help! Because of a bet, the two are brought together. I can’t remember reading a steamier scene – hot doesn’t begin to describe it. Thanks to Ms. Hill I will never again be able to look at a platter of sliced fruit without thinking about Grace and Angel. Oh, my! You’ve been warned. . .

There’s a lot more to the story – orphaned siblings who need help; a blackmail attempt; the incarceration of beloved Tante Lulu. All in all, a very entertaining book.

Note: Check the author’s website. So Into You is part of the Cajun series. If you’re like me, you’ll want to go back and read the first seven books!

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

How To Score by Robin Wells

Product Details

Synopsis: Museum curator Sammi Matthews isn’t just in a dating slump, she’s putting men on the injured list. After giving one date a black eye and cracking another’s rib, Sammi decides she needs professional help. Enter life coach Luke Jones, who advises Sammi on how to overcome her klutziness. And their phone sessions work! Sammi soon meets a sexy FBI agent who seems to know just what she needs.

When his brother Luke goes into federal protection, FBI Special Agent Chase Jones agrees to cover for him. Then Sammi’s hot voice sizzles down the line, and the usual “phone only” rule is out. With “Luke” coaching her by day, and Chase dating her by night, Sammi’s confidence soars, along with her appeal. Chase falls hard, but how will Sammi feel if and when he comes clean? Chase would rather she break all his bones than risk breaking her heart.

How to Score by Robin Wells is funny, sweet, and yes, a little sexy. It’s a perfect beach read (or stay-cation backyard read). Filled with memorable characters, this romantic comedy would make an adorable movie. I especially loved the accordion-playing, accountant by day, spare time rap composer Horace. He is one of Luke’s clients who (at age 40) really needs to move out of his mother’s home. His rap lyrics cracked me up. I like a book that includes minor characters who grab your attention.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

All of Me by Lori Wilde

All of Me

Attorney Jillian Samuels doesn’t believe in true love and never, ever wished for happily ever after. But when a searing betrayal leaves her jobless and heartbroken, a newly inherited cottage in Salvation, Colorado, seems to offer a fresh start. What she finds when she arrives shocks her: the most gorgeous and infuriating man she’s ever met is living in her home!

Tuck Manning was a gifted architect who left a skyrocketing career to care for his dying wife. But the life he’s made for himself in this quiet town is turned upside down when Jillian appears on his doorstep. Tuck won’t go without a fight, and the two resolve to live as roommates until they can untangle who owns the cottage. Yet as Tuck and Jillian’s days — and nights — heat up, they realize more than property rights are at stake… and that sometimes, salvation comes when you least expect it.

My thoughts: All Of Me is the story of two people and love. One has never experienced it so she doesn’t really believe in it. The other is grieving the loss of his true love (two years earlier). She has inherited a lake house only to find him living there after his father-in-law gave him the deed. The story takes off from there. Lori Wilde’s novel is engaging and entertaining as well as a very fast read. It’s the last installment of the Wedding Veil Wishes series.

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the review copy.

To Beguile A Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

To Beguile A Beast (The Legend of the Four Soldiers, #3)


Reclusive Sir Alistair Munroe has hidden in his castle ever since returning from the Colonies, scarred inside and out. But when a mysterious beauty arrives at his door, the passions he’s kept suppressed for years begin to awaken.
Running from past mistakes has taken legendary beauty Helen Fitzwilliam from the luxury of the ton to a crumbling Scottish castle . . . and a job as a housekeeper. Yet Helen is determined to start a new life and she won’t let dust-or a beast of a man-scare her away.
Beneath Helen’s beautiful façade, Alistair finds a courageous and sensual woman. A woman who doesn’t back away from his surliness-or his scars. But just as he begins to believe in true love, Helen’s secret past threatens to tear them apart. Now both Beast and Beauty must fight for the one thing neither believed they could ever find-a happy ever after.

My thoughts: I’d never read a Historical Romance novel before To Beguile A Beast. The only preconceived notion I had before reading the book was that of possible “bodice ripper”. What I found was an entertaining, albeit steamy, fairy tale/romance. Is that redundant?? This book is part of the Legend of the Four Soldiers series. I’ll no doubt be reading the previous installments. If you’re a fan of the genre, I recommend To Beguile A Beast.

My thanks to Anna from Hachette Book Group for sending the book.

There’s still time to enter the giveaway!

Anna has allowed me to give away five copies of To Beguile A Beast. Enter here until 10pm EDT today – June 3rd.

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP by Lauren Lipton: Book Cover

Back of the book: sometimes what happens in Vegas … follows you home. Peggy Adams is upset when she wakes up next to a strange man after a Vegas night she can’t remember … but she’s horrified when she discovers that she married him! Luke Sedgwick is WASP royalty, the last of the New Nineveh, Connecticut, Sedgwicks. He might also be perfect, if Peggy weren’t already “pre-engaged” to her live-in boyfriend of seven years (she even has a “promise ring” to prove it). Peggy and Luke agree to get an annulment ASAP – and then receive an offer they can’t refuse …

Luke’s eccentric great-aunt Abigail offers the two the chance to make millions on the family estate: All they have to do is stay married for a year. Peggy is soon pretending to be one-half of the perfect couple among New England’s WASPy set on the weekends, while keeping her marriage a secret during the week. But she isn’t prepared for what might be her worst mistake of all – falling in love with her soon-to-be ex-husband.

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP was a fun novel. I enjoyed Ms. Lipton’s smooth writing and unpretentious style. Her characterizations of Luke, Peggy and Aunt Abby are wonderful. Take this book to the shore – it would be a great vacation read.
Review copy from Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

Cover Image

BN synopsis: Laurel Gray Hawthorne needs to make things pretty. Coming from a family with a literal skeleton in their closet, she’s developed this talent all her life, whether helping her willful mother to smooth over the reality of her family’s ugly past, or elevating humble scraps of unwanted fabric into nationally acclaimed art quilts.

Her sister Thalia, an impoverished “Actress” with a capital A, is her opposite, and prides herself in exposing the lurid truth lurking behind life’s everyday niceties. And while Laurel’s life was neatly on track, a passionate marriage, a treasured daughter, and a lovely home in lovely suburban Victorianna, everything she holds dear is thrown into question the night she is visited by an apparition in her bedroom. The ghost appears to be her 14-year-old neighbor Molly Dufresne, and when Laurel follows this ghost , she finds the real Molly floating lifeless in her swimming pool. While the community writes the tragedy off as a suicide, Laurel can’t. Reluctantly enlisting Thalia’s aid, Laurel sets out on a life-altering investigation that triggers startling revelations about her own guarded past, the truth about her marriage, and the girl who stopped swimming.

Holy cow(slip), what a story! Ok, that’s a lame joke that you’ll get if you read the book. With The Girl Who Stopped Swimming Joshilyn Jackson shows why she’s one of the most imaginative writers out there today.

I’m not a mystery lover per se, but give me atmosphere and some teetering-on-the-brink-of-crazy characters, I’ll just have to find out “whodunit”. It was a page-turner, to be sure. The second half of the book had me riveted to my chair and didn’t release me until I finished reading the last page. I know I’ll be thinking about it for quite some time and I look forward to Jackson’s next book (soon, please). If she’s a new author to you, in addition to this book, I recommend Gods In Alabama.

The trade paperback publish date is May 26, 2009

Thanks to Valerie Russo and Hachette Book Group for sending the book for review.