Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Secret of the Journal: Rope of Sand by C.F. Dunn (book #3)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book for free from the publisher through the Kregel Publications' book  blogger campaign and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


About the Book: (Information taken from the Kregel Publications site)

The third installment of the acclaimed romantic thriller series

This third volume, set in rural Maine’s deep winter, follows the developing relationship between British historian, Emma D’Eresby, and American surgeon, Matthew Lynes. Emma unravels Matthew’s alarming past and begins to comprehend how very different her future might be with a man whose identity must never be revealed.

Emma nervously meets Matthew’s family. She encounters his seventy-year-old son, Henry, and learns how unique the family really is. As Christmas approaches, it is clear that Emma is not welcomed by all: what does Matthew’s great-granddaughter have against her, and what might his sinister psychiatrist granddaughter, Maggie, be prepared to do?

Bound by their faith, Matthew and Emma have accepted that they must wait to be together until his wife dies. Very reluctantly, Emma meets Ellen—an elderly woman with a core of steel—and learns how living with Matthew will mean concealment and lies. How can they have a life together?


Read an Excerpt here!

About the Author: (Information taken from her Goodreads Author Page)
Writing as CF Dunn, I thrive on creating romantic thrillers with a historical twist, drawing on a degree in history and a career in literacy development to write stories that touch on people’s frailty and their unexpected strengths. Everyone has a story to tell, and I explore how the legacy of the past impacts on the present and shapes the future. The question is, can anyone escape their history, and how will it determine the path they choose to take?

My love of Maine and my family's long legacy in the county of Lincolnshire provide a rich heritage and vital elements in the evolving story of The Secret of the Journal series.

Blessed with a historian husband, two creative daughters and a quirky Corgi, I divide my time between running a specialist dyslexia and autism school we founded in Kent, and writing in Cornwall.


Stalk the Author: Website / Twitter / Goodreads / Facebook



Dynamic Uno here: I fell in love with The Secret of the Journal series while reading book #1, Mortal Fire.  The characters had so many facets and intricacies woven into their stories that I became engrossed in learning more and more about their lives, and ultimately, worried about their outcomes.  (Can you say addicted?) 

Somehow I missed the release of book #2, Death Be Not Proud, so I was unaware that the lives of Matthew, Emma, and the others were continuing without me.  Thankfully, I ordered it through Amazon: Death Be Not Proud (The Secret of the Journal)  and started reading it right away so that I could find out what happened after the cliffhanger of Mortal Fire.  (It was just as captivating!) 

I immediately dove into book #3, Rope of Sand, when I finished book #2.  The beginning pages of this book were a recap from the ending of Death Be Not Proud, but some of the details were changed a bit so it threw me for a bit of a loop at first.  However briefly distracted, I was immediately sucked back into the story as Emma celebrated Christmas with Matthew and was introduced to his "extended" family members.

While most of Matthew's family accepted Emma into their fold, there were a few family members who resisted the idea that she would eventually become a permanent fixture within their household. The resentment resulted in a bit of mischief that almost caused Emma to die.  Fortunately, Matthew and his son, Henry, are doctors, so they were able to revive Emma before she was lost to them all.  Tests were run, and it was discovered that Emma had her own special gift of helping others (although you'll have to read the book to find out about her talent).

When classes resume on campus, Emma learns that Professor Staahl is accusing her for his damaged reputation when she gets served with the court papers. Realizing that her nightmare has returned in real life, she grows concerned when she realizes that the only people who really know what happened on the night she was attacked were Staahl, Matthew, and herself--inevitably throwing Matthew in the spotlight, a place he has learned to avoid.

Will Matthew's secret be divulged through the trial?  Will Emma be able to produce evidence that she was not complicit in the attack by Staahl, or will his hidden allies manage to set him free?  All these and questions and more will be answered by reading Rope of Sand.

I enjoyed reading this installment of The Secret of the Journal series because we finally met characters we had only been introduced to briefly and were able to see how they interacted with one another.  I felt that this book was a bit heavy and drawn-out with the court case thrown in because it wreaked havoc on everyone's lives, but it did bring more of the "family secrets" to life and caused Emma and Matthew's family to claim "sides."  

I was a bit disappointed because I had hoped we would see a wedding  and get the "happily ever after" ending that I so want to see for Matthew and Emma, but this was not the case at this point in their lives.  Guess I'll have to wait for the penultimate book #4, Realm of Darkness, to be released.  (Yay!  More Matthew and Emma!!)

If you enjoy suspense, mystery, intrigue, and history, you'll love this series--although you MUST start at the beginning or you'll have no idea of what's happening and why certain details and story-lines are so important.  

Purchase the Book here: Kregel Publications 

Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!
  


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy to be Alive, Because by Chelsea Jacobs


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book for free from the publisher through the Litfuse Publicity Group book  blogger campaign and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


About the book: (Information taken directly from LitFuse Publicity's Landing Page.)

Avery is a seventeen-year-old girl whose reality has just been shattered by the death of her mother. Feeling a desperate need to flee from what has become her life, she follows a travel plan meant for her mom and her that leads her to the little beach town where her mom grew up. It's there that she meets a group of three adventurous friends who adopt her into their circle, allowing her to experience a summer she never thought would be possible after suffering such a great loss. Unfortunately, her summer full of experiences threatens to end abruptly when she realizes that one of the three has a secret that causes her to question everything about the new life she has been building.
Avery must learn to balance her grief and her desire for a future in order to achieve her mother's final wish for her: That she would be happy to be alive.

Purchase a copy: http://ow.ly/xlD3V


About the author: 
(Information taken directly from LitFuse Publicity's Landing Page.)


Chelsea grew up with an immense love for words---both reading them and writing them. She obtained her degree in English and has spent the time since then getting married to her high school sweetheart and chasing adventure so she'll have something to write about. When she's not drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing, she spends her time reading, playing with her puppy named Gatsby, and dreaming, always dreaming.

Chelsea can be found at: websiteTwitter




Dynamic Uno here: When I closed the last page of this book I literally could only say, "Wow," because that was the only word I could find to describe how I felt after reading Happy to be Alive, Because.  I sat on the couch and really thought about my life and how I take many people for granted, because they've always been there for me.  How would I cope if they suddenly were not around and would never be again?

After reading Avery's story about the loss of her mother to cancer, I thought back to my own  mother going in to Moffitt at the beginning of the year (New Years Eve) to have a tumor removed that was possibly cancerous.  After the surgery, her doctor told us that it was the size of a small football-about 8 lbs.-and thankfully, was not cancerous, but I remember having to prepare myself to help her battle something that could possibly end her life.  What would I do without my mom?

Reading about Avery's goal to follow through with the trip to Florida, her mother had planned, reminded me of what I tend to do when faced with situations I don't want to particularly deal with, and that is to flee/pretend it's not happening.

While Avery still deeply felt the loss of her mother, she was able to go through the grieving process with the help of her new friends-Rob, Major, and Lily.  By hanging out with them and developing a routine that led to some semblance of a "normal" life, Avery was able to finally look past her grief into the life she wanted to live.

Despite a set-back when learning a dark secret Rob had kept hidden, Avery learned that she truly could be "Happy to be Alive," as she journaled each thing that led her to being happy on a daily basis.  (Something I think I may pick up to help me through the crazy dark days.)

Happy to be Alive, Because was an enjoyable book.  While it's geared towards young adults, I can see this book quickly gaining popularity with adults as well.  It will definitely be one that I recommend to my students and teachers when they are going through tough times as well.

You can purchase Ms. Jacobs' book here.  What are you waiting for?  Go buy it now--you won't regret it!


1. Happy to be Alive, Because...I get to enjoy playing with my little girl (cat) Madison!

2. Happy to be Alive, Because...I get to read and blog about awesome books!

3. Happy to be Alive, Because...chocolate was invented to soothe my savage inner beast.

4.  Your turn...


As always, let me know what you think,  and Happy Reading!



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to those Fathers of the two or four-legged variety! I hope you have a wonderful day today!




Happy Father's Day Dad!  Love you!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A SEASON OF CHANGE from Lynette Sowell | Kindle HDX giveaway and Facebook Party!

In A Season of Change, book one of Lynette Sowell's new series, Seasons of Pinecraft, readers will discover a different side of the Amish community. A Season of Change follows Natalie and Amish widower Jacob Miller as they each discover the mysterious ways God works. Inspired by the image of a Plain woman sitting on a three-wheeled bicycle by the Pinecraft (an Amish community in Florida) post office, Sowell’s latest is a new take on the popular trend in fiction.

Lynette is celebrating with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a Facebook author chat party on June 12th.
seasonchange-400-click

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 12th. Winner will be announced at the A Season of Change Facebook author chat party on June 12th. Connect with Lynette for an evening of fun book chat, Amish-themed trivia, and prizes. Lynette will also be answering audience questions and giving an exclusive look at the next book in the Seasons of Pinecraft series!

So grab your copy of A Season of Change and join Lynette on the evening of June 12th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 12th!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New from @RonieKendig | Raptor 6! Enter to win a Kindle HDX.

Don't miss the first book, Raptor 6, in Ronie Kendig's new Quiet Professionals series. Ronie combines a dangerous romance and explosive action for a thrilling and satisfying ride. "Lock and load for this Spec Op, fighting under God’s 'rules of engagement.'" —Bob Hamer, veteran FBI undercover agent and award-winning author

Ronie is celebrating with a Kindle HDX Giveaway!
raptor6-400-click

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on June 15th. Winner will be announced June 16th on Ronie's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Ronie's blog on June 16th to see if you won.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Season of Change by Lynette Sowell (Seasons in Pinecraft series, Book #1)



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book for free from the publisher through the Litfuse Publicity Group book  blogger campaign and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

ABOUT THE BOOK: (Information taken directly from LitFuse Publicity's Promotions page.)

Book One in the NEW Seasons of Pinecraft series | A Season of Change
An Amish widower finds love in unexpected places.
Amish widower Jacob Miller believes it was a mistake to visit the Amish village of Pinecraft for winter vacation, especially after his daughter is struck by a car. Stranded in Sarasota until his daughter recovers, Jacob grows increasingly wary of events that unfold in his unfamiliar surroundings—including the strange curiosity of Englischer Natalie Bennett.
Natalie never thought her circus career as an aerial silks artist would end with a blown-out knee at the age of 25. She also never knew her late mother had a secret—that she was once Amish.
When Natalie meets the Millers at the Sarasota hospital, she is attracted to their warm hospitality and simple ways—and soon wonders if they can help her find her mother’s family. As Jacob and Natalie fall in love, their worlds collide. Will their differences tear them apart? Or will their love be strong enough to blend their clashing cultures?



Lynette Sowell was born in western Massachusetts in the shadow of the Berkshire Mountains, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and now makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country. The award-winning author of more than 15 titles, Lynette loves reading, cooking, watching movies, and is always up for a Texas road trip. When not writing fiction, she works in medical transcription and is a freelance writer and columnist for her local newspaper.


Dynamic Uno here:  When I realized A Season of Change took place in Pinecraft, I was even more excited than usual.  You see, I live in a suburb of Tampa, Florida, which is just north of Sarasota- where Pinecraft is located!  

In fact, I've been to Yoder's Amish Village several times and can't wait to go back!  The food at the restaurant is FABULOUS!  Really--it's like the food your grandma used to make.  Meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, apple butter for the fresh sliced bread, and lots of pie!   Everything is homemade and not from some box--like I normally use.  (Now I'm hungry...)

I love to shop at their market and deli area.  My favorite thing to buy, aside from everything, is their sweet mint tea!  Around Christmas, I went there with my aunt and I forgot to order several gallons ahead of time, but they went ahead and made them for me as a special order.  Talk about generous! 

I've eyed the pizza shop and Big Olaf's Ice Cream place, but haven't ventured in yet.  Maybe in the fall when things cool down a bit and I can enjoy the outdoors without melting.  Now that I've read more about the village area, I may even be a "tourist" and venture around a bit more to see if I can find some of the locations in the story.

And now back to the story...I thought it was really neat that Natalie worked as a former circus performer and now teaches children how to do the acrobatics in the silks.   Having her dress up as a clown to entertain the children in the hospital at Christmas was a welcome treat--especially since they were so far from home and in desperate need of some cheer.  (The Circus Clown School is actually right down the road from Yoder's.) 

Jacob seemed like a lost little puppy with his children.  With no wife to help with their care, I'm glad that his grandmother was able to help while they had their extended stay.  Zeke seemed like a bright young boy and Rebecca seemed very mature for her age--although they'd been through a lot of heartache for being so young.

I enjoyed reading about the developing friendship between Natalie and Jacob's family--especially when she learned that her own mother had been Amish and found part of a quilt she had started.  

I was a bit frustrated by the "rules" that Jacob had to follow--they remind me a bit of my grandmother's denomination--but I understand their reasoning and can see how it may not be a problem for him since he was raised with those beliefs.

Of course, I was really excited to read about the developing feelings Jacob and Natalie had for one another, but I couldn't figure out a middle ground as Mammi had suggested because their worlds are so very different.  I'm so glad that everything worked out in the end and I can't wait to read more about the other villagers! 

If you like to read romance with a twist, then you need to read A Season of Change!  Who knows, maybe I'll see you around Pinecraft sometime.  ((I'll be the one buying all of the Sweet Mint Tea.)

Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!!!







A Season of Change Lynette Sowell

Monday, June 9, 2014

Raptor 6 by Ronie Kendig (The Quiet Professionals book #1)


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book for free from the publisher through the Litfuse Publicity Group book  blogger campaign and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


ABOUT RAPTOR 6: (Information taken Directly from LitFuse Publicity Promotions Page)
The Quiet Professionals series | Raptor 6
His team. His mission. A mission that comes at the highest cost!
Captain Dean Watters keeps his mission and his team in the forefront of his laser-like focus. So when Dean’s mission and team are threatened, his Special Forces training kicks into high gear. Failing to stop hackers from stealing national security secrets from the military’s secure computers and networks isn’t an option.
Zahrah Zarrick is a missionary teacher to Afghan children in Mazar-e Sharif. And a target. When Zahrah is captured because of her expertise in quantum cryptology, compromising the U.S. military, Dean is forced to crack the lockbox around his heart—a move that might come at the highest cost.

ABOUT RONIE KENDIG}

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. She married a veteran, and together their lives are never dull with four children and two dogs–a a Maltese Menace and a retired military working dog, Vvolt N629. Ronie’s degree in psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters. Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have hit bestseller lists and garnered awards and critical acclaim.
Find out more about Ronie at http://roniekendig.com.


Dynamic Uno Here: Raptor 6 grabs you from the first page and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.  

I thought that once I had read The Discarded Heroes series by Ms. Kendig, that nothing would be able to top it.  Boy was I WRONG!  (Thank goodness!)  Action around every turned page, and the reality of the men and women that are currently deployed facing the risks and challenges that were throughout this story gave me a whole new appreciation for those wearing a uniform.

Having to constantly be on guard and ten steps ahead of your opponent actually caused me a little bit of anxiety as I felt the helplessness and hopelessness of the characters.  I admired the strong faith of Zahrah despite the turmoil and abuse she lived through.  I don't think I would have handled the situation quite as calm and clear-minded as she did.  In fact, I can almost guarantee that I would have just given up and given in to my captors.

Reading the struggles Dean faced on a previous mission and then having to volunteer to face them again showed me true courage and honor.  I think I would have told my boss to "stick it" if he requested that I face the same challenges as before, and that there was a chance that I might not come back alive.  (I guess that's why I'm not in uniform.  Thankfully, there are many others who would.)

I enjoyed reading about the missionary work that Zahrah did while in Afghanistan--teaching the young girls to read and speak English.  I definitely take for granted that I am allowed to have an education in this country--especially when so many others do not allow women or young girls to have one.  I thought she was very noble to stick with her students, even after the threats and destruction of their school, but as a fellow teacher, I completely understand her stance.

I was frustrated when I read about the "mole."  I didn't realize at first what the situation was, but later, the mole's antics made sense.  I have some ideas on who it may be, but if I've learned anything from reading Raptor 6, is that what is expected is not what is going to happen.

If you enjoy action and suspense, with a hint of romance, then this is the book for you!  (Guys, don't let the romance stint cause you to balk at the story--there's not much included since propriety must be followed in Afghanistan, but knowing the thoughts of the characters definitely helps.)

I say, go get the book and read it already!  I want to discuss it with someone!!!

Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!!




RAPTOR 6 Ronie Kendig

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of the Mom's of the two-legged and four-legged variety, as well as to those who want to be Moms! I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating!




A special Happy Mother's Day goes out to my Mom!  
Love you!  
(And thank goodness you've figured out the whole texting thing.)  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Critical Condition by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book for free from the publisher through the Litfuse Publicity Group book  blogger campaign and I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


About the Book: (Information taken directly from LitFuse Publicity's Promotions page.)

Dr. Frasier couldn’t save the gunshot victim on her front lawn. Now she’s fighting for her own life.
It began as a quiet dinner party honoring Dr. Shannon Frasier’s colleague, but became a nightmare when a man was shot on her lawn, reviving emotions from a similar episode a decade ago. Then a midnight call from her sister, Megan, causes Shannon to fear that her sister is on drugs again.
Her “almost-fiancĂ©” Dr. Mark Gilbert’s support only adds to Shannon’s feelings of guilt, since she can’t bring herself to fully commit to him. She turns for help to her pastor-father, only to learn that he’s just been diagnosed with leukemia.
Shannon thought it couldn’t get any worse. Then the late-night, threatening phone calls begin, the rough voice asking, “What did he say before he died?”
With everything around her in a critical state, simply staying alive will require all the resources and focus Shannon has.
Learn more and purchase a copy at Richard’s website.

A retired physician, Dr. Richard Mabry is the author of seven critically acclaimed novels of medical suspense. His previous works have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Award, and have won the Selah Award. He is a past Vice-President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the International Thriller Writers. He and his wife live in North Texas.


              Read Chapters 1 & 2 of Critical Condition on Dr. Mabry's website-here.

Dynamic Uno here: If you've been following my blog or book reviews for any length of time, you know that I love suspense, action, and romance.  Critical Condition has all three of these elements and more!  
The action grabbed me from the beginning when we learn about Dr. Shannon Frasier's sad loss which inspired her to become a doctor and help save others.  Then to have the situation, although with a stranger, repeated during a dinner party--I could only imagine the shock that would have been to her, but it didn't stop there. Situation after crazy situation continued to happen leaving Shannon with only one place to go--God's loving and open arms.
I really enjoyed reading about Shannon's life in the hospital community.  I'd never really thought about how doctors learn to be doctors after medical school, so seeing how she mentored the new ones and offered advice was eye-opening.  Plus, she seemed to be very well connected.  (Yes, I realize this is fictionalized, but it's nice to think that there are still doctors out there who actually care about their patients' welfare instead of being run over by the insurance companies. *stepping off soap-box*)  
Putting myself in her place and having to deal with the craziness that her sister brought into her life, I don't think I'd be as graceful as Shannon.  I probably would have told my sister to find other lodgings so I didn't have to put up with her shenanigans--especially after Mark, Shannon's boyfriend, ends up in a fight with Megan's ex when they go back to his house to get her things. I know she thought this on occasion, but then guilt made Shannon change her mind and let Megan off the hook because of all she's been through in life.  I think I would have thrown in the towel and booted her out.  (I enjoy reading drama, I just don't enjoy living with it.)
Then, to find out that her dad is fighting for his life, a crazy man is trying to kill her for information from the guy who was shot in her front yard--the very same one who may have caused her to have a life-threatening virus, and a detective who flirts with her--Shannon has an awful lot to deal with on a daily basis.  Not to mention the twist of events towards the end. I would have curled up in the corner and rocked back and forth until the nice men in the white coats came to take me away.
Overall, Critical Condition will having you biting your nails and making sure the doors and windows are locked up tight.  If you enjoy suspense, action, a lot of drama, and a touch of romance, then this is the book for you!!

Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!!


Kindle HDX Giveaway!
Richard Mabry Critical Condition

Friday, May 2, 2014

CRITICAL CONDITION Kindle HDX Giveaway from Richard Mabry!

Richard Mabry's latest medical suspense, Critical Condition, is receiving high praise. USA TODAY says, "Mabry combines his medical expertise with a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat."

Richard is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX giveaway!
criticalcondition-400-click
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Critical Condition by Richard Mabry
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 11th. Winner will be announced May 13th on Richard's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Richard's blog on May 13th to see if you won.


Stay tuned for my book review of Critical Condition--tomorrow!

Monday, April 28, 2014

FIRST WildCard Tour: Table for Two by Brandy Bruce

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Heartsong Presents (2014)

***Special thanks to the author,Brandy Bruce, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brandy Bruce has worked in book publishing for more than nine years--editing, writing, reading, and making good use of online dictionaries. She's a graduate of Liberty University and works as a part-time book editor for a publishing house. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Colorado with their two children, Ashtyn and Lincoln. When Brandy isn't editing manuscripts or writing novels, she loves spending time with her family, baking any kind of cheesecake, watching movies based on Jane Austen novels, or curling up with a favorite book.

Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Mandy Seymour always books a table for one. So the pretty food critic is stunned when she captures the eye of dashing chef Leonardo Romano. Leo's good looks and fabulous cooking are swoon-worthy, but it's his tender care of his ailing father and affection for his warm Italian family that really touch her heart. A broken engagement has made Leo cautious. And as he grapples with his dad's illness, he's skeptical about starting a new relationship, even with a woman as compelling as Mandy. But as he spends more time with Mandy, Leo starts to realize that the last thing he should give up is love.



Product Details:
List Price: $4.99 US and $5.99 CAN.
Paperback: Trade
Publisher:Harlequin Love Inspired/ Heartsong Presents
Language: English
ISBN-13:978-0-373-48703-5


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter 1 Mandy Seymour held up one hand to hold off traffic as she dashed across the crowded street, wincing as the “Walk” sign changed to “Stop” before she could reach the other side. “Sorry, sorry,” she muttered as the sound of horns honking followed her. She pushed through the revolving door of the Hyatt Regency hotel and rushed past the front desk. Taking a quick moment to look down at the brochure in her hand, Mandy took the next left and sighed with relief when she saw that the double doors to the conference room directly ahead of her were still open. She slid into the last row of seats and turned her attention to the speaker at the front of the room. Gabriel Romano. The Gabriel Romano—the well-known entrepreneur, chef, and owner of two four-star restaurants, one in Denver, the other in Los Angeles. Mandy’s mouth watered at the very thought of his infamous tiramisu. She caught the end of Mr. Romano’s introduction as she shuffled through her purse, looking for a pen and a notepad. How can I not have a pen? I always have pens—but of course, when I need one, there are none to be found. Mandy ignored the disapproving voice in the back of her mind that always sounded just like her mother. Mandy, why are you so disorganized? Mandy, when are you going to be more responsible? Mandy, isn’t it time you got yourself together? “Here, take this.” Mandy looked up in surprise at the voice whispering next to her. A man in a blue tailored suit with a silver tie handed her a pen. “Thanks,” Mandy whispered back, accepting the pen, her gaze lingering just a little too long on the man. His dark wavy hair, jet-black eyes, and olive skin were a nice combination. Don’t even think about it, Mandy. He’s probably married. Was that her voice or her mother’s in her head? Mandy shook away the question and settled in her seat, eager to be swept into Gabriel Romano’s rise-to-success story, beginning with learning to cook from his grandmother during summers spent in the Italian countryside. “So, why are you here?” the guy leaned over and whispered again. Mandy barely glanced at him. Okay, I know you’re cute, but I’m here to hear Gabriel Romano so stop talking! Mandy shrugged. “The same reason everyone else is—Gabriel Romano,” she whispered, hoping her annoyance would register with the guy. “So you’re another admirer,” he said. It obviously didn’t register with him. “I’m a food critic,” Mandy whispered in a rush. “I’m going to the new Romano’s on 15th Street tonight and doing a review, so I thought I’d come hear his story.” A woman in front of them looked back, holding her finger to her lips. “Shh!” Mandy’s face burned with embarrassment. The guy next to her seemed unaffected. “What time will you be there?” “What?” Mandy asked, forgetting to whisper. The woman in front turned around again, glaring this time. The guy leaned closer. “What time will you be at Romano’s tonight?” Mandy blinked, caught for a moment by those dark eyes of his. Why did he want to know? She looked back down at the notepad on her lap without answering. “I’m Leo, by the way,” the guy whispered. Mandy sneaked another look over at him. He had a nice smile. But that didn’t mean anything. There could be a lunatic lurking behind that nice smile. “I’m Mandy Seymour.” What happened to the lunatic theory? I’m now having a conversation with a complete stranger—missing out on the speech that I came to hear! Leo nodded. “Nice to meet you. What time will you be at Romano’s tonight, Mandy?” Mandy licked her lips and gripped the borrowed pen in her hand. “8:00.” Leo winked at her. “Maybe I’ll see you there,” he whispered with a smile before leaving the conference room. Mandy watched him go, wondering where he went and wishing she had asked him why he was there. Leo Romano typed the name Mandy Seymour into his phone and waited for the search engine to give him what he needed. Within seconds, the first page of hits came on the screen and Leo scrolled through, clicking on the third link. Mandy Seymour, respected food critic for Denver Lifestyle magazine, recommends the Coffee and Crepes delicatessen off 23rd and Mountain View. Mandy was quoted as saying, “The service was impeccable and the breakfast quiche exceeded my expectations . . .” Leo clicked off his phone and shoved his hands in his pockets. Even from the hallway, he heard his father’s voice booming through the conference room. He could quote verbatim his father’s speech, and while it was usually inspirational for the audience, Leo could only stand to hear it so many times. He stepped closer to the open door, scanning the back row where Mandy Seymour sat, scribbling on her notepad. She’d rushed into the conference room, late, juggling a purse and shoulder bag; then she’d furiously rummaged through her purse until Leo had given her his pen. He’d been amused by her effort to ignore him and her frustration at his attempt at conversation. Wisps of brown hair had escaped the knot tied at the nape of her neck. Leo doubted that Mandy knew her scarf was haphazardly dragging on the floor when she’d rushed in. Everything about the woman shouted scatterbrained. Still, scatterbrained or not, when Mandy dropped her pen and then scrambled to find it under her chair, Leo smiled without warning from where he stood watching. She’s charming. In a clumsy, disheveled sort of way. Leo watched her sit back up and blow a stray hair from her face while she continued taking notes. Not like Carol Ann. Those are two words that could never describe her. Leo’s neck stiffened at even the thought of Carol Ann Hunt. It had been more than six months since she’d broken off their engagement and moved back to her parents’ home in Chicago. Leo leaned against the wall near the doorway and closed his eyes, sending up a quick prayer for just a little more endurance. Please help me get the new restaurant off the ground, Father. It’s so important to my dad. He can’t do this without me. And I can’t do this without You. The sound of laughter coming from the conference room broke the moment of reverie and Leo looked up, glancing at his watch and knowing that the speech would be over soon. His father’s voice echoed through the corridor and Leo couldn’t avoid hearing the highlights of his father’s life story. He listened as Gabriel Romano talked about discovering his passion—and talent—for cooking, marrying the love of his life and raising a family in Los Angeles, struggling financially to get his first restaurant off the ground. But through hard work, determination, and a stellar reputation for good food, that first Romano’s eventually thrived. Gabriel told the audience that he hired his brother to be the manager and overseer of the restaurant while he concentrated on cooking, and a few years later he decided to move his family to Colorado. With the success of the Los Angeles Romano’s, the opening of a second restaurant proved to be much easier. The restaurant on Franklin Street in Denver turned into an overnight success. As the speech came to a close, Leo noted that his father hadn’t mentioned that Leo would be the head chef, running the kitchen at the 15th Street location. He knew his father wanted to create more buzz by keeping the new chef’s identity a mystery until the restaurant opened. That suited Leo just fine; he had enough on his plate without enduring the press and questions about his new role as head chef, along with the inevitable comparisons that would be made to his father. As the crowd filed through the double doors, Leo moved back. From a distance, Leo could see Mandy Seymour make her way back down toward the lobby. Knowing she would be at the grand opening tonight, Leo would make sure everything from the food to the service to the lighting would be perfect. Mandy took her time walking down the street back toward Union Station. She planned to head back to her condo to work on her review from the mom-and-pop pizzeria she’d tried the week before. It was one of the things she loved most about her job—finding that diamond in the rough, so to speak. That little out-of-the-way place right outside of Denver that served amazing meat loaf or that tiny diner off Mosely Street that had the best cherry pie and homemade ice cream. Not that Romano’s could ever be described as a little hole-in-the-wall type place; with its marble flooring, an outdoor fountain, stone fireplaces, textured walls, and magnificent murals—it was more than impressive. Mandy had been to the restaurant on Franklin Street a number of times. The Italian restaurant stood as practically a landmark in the area. But this latest Romano’s promised new items on the menu, created by a new chef—someone with Gabriel Romano’s obvious stamp of approval. Mandy tightened her pea coat around her and picked up her pace as the wind brushed across her face. She wished she’d thought to wear a more substantial coat. It had been a mild January for Denver, but as a lifelong Coloradan, Mandy knew how unpredictable the weather could be. The sounds of downtown Denver competed with the brisk wind as Mandy reached Union Station. She loved the energy of being in the mile-high city. She thrived on the lights, the noise, the crowds; living in a place bustling with people helped with the loneliness of living on her own. Within seconds of finding a seat on the train, Mandy’s cell phone rang. Just the sound of the Shirelle’s singing Mama Said told Mandy all she needed to know. Claire Seymour was nothing if not predictable. Mandy held the phone to her ear. “Hi, Mom.” “Mandy, are you still downtown?” “No, Mom. I’m already on my way back home. Why?” “I thought you said you’d call me on your way back to the Tech Center.” “I’ve only been on the train for about two minutes. I was going to call you once I’d been on the train for three minutes.” “There’s no need to be snippy, Mandy.” Mandy watched the city fly by as the train moved. “Sorry.” “Good. Now, I’m cooking pot roast tonight, and I want you to come over for dinner. Your brother and his wife are coming, too. Six o’clock.” “Mom, I already told you that I have plans tonight. I have to visit that new restaurant and then start my review. So I can’t make it. But please tell Brian and Samantha that I said hello.” “I’m making pot roast!” “Next time, okay?” “Sunday dinner. I won’t take no for an answer. I expect you in Evergreen by 4:00.” “Fine. Sunday. 4:00. I’ll be there.” “And I certainly hope you’re wearing your good coat! It’s freezing outside!” “I know it is. See you Sunday.” Mandy clicked her phone off and leaned her head back against the cold window, ignoring the familiar wave of defeat that came over her whenever she talked to her mother. As the train rattled to a stop, Mandy jumped up, swung her bag over her shoulder and braced herself for the cold wind. She allowed herself a little time to think about the mysterious Leo. He’s Italian, obviously. Aren’t Italian men famous for flirting? Or maybe that’s Greek men . . . Anyway, he probably didn’t mean anything by it. And I’m sure he won’t be at Romano’s tonight. He’s too good-looking to be interested in me. Without a doubt, that last thought had her mother’s tone. Don’t think about Mom. I’ve proved her wrong, so far, haven’t I? Here I am, living in the city with a job I love . . . I haven’t turned out to be the failure she feared I would be. Okay, so I’m not married to a dashing, successful man and I’m not the size-six, fashion-conscious, top-executive she’d wanted me to be—there are worse things in life. Mandy’s shoulder bag fell to the ground, its contents scattering. Mandy sighed. Like being a walking disaster.


Dynamic Uno here:  Mandy Seymour is a food critic and is running late to a press conference given by the well-respected and known Chef Gabriel Romano, regarding the opening of his new restaurant in Denver, Colorado.  As Mandy rushes in, she manages to grab a seat near the back of the room and starts digging in her purse to find a writing utensil so she could capture every word from her favorite chef.  Unfortunately, she is not able to find one until the handsome man sitting next to her hands her one from his pocket.  

Mandy tries to ignore the man, despite his best efforts to start a conversation with her, and finally gives in because she thinks it will make him stop talking.  What she doesn't know, is that she's sitting next to Leo Romano, Gabriel's son, and the head chef at the new restaurant--the very same one Mandy is going to tonight to critique.  After a brief conversation, Leo leaves and begins to research the intriguing young lady he just met and intends to surprise tonight at the restaurant.

Mandy begins to think about the dashing gentleman she met and wonders if he'll meet her at the restaurant for a (gasp!) date.  Hashing it over with her friend, she eventually decides to let fate take its course, although truthfully, she was really hoping he would show up.  (Leo does show up, but you'll have to read the book to find out if fireworks appear, or if it's actually World War III.)


I really enjoyed reading this book because it was a heartwarming romance and I could relate whole-heartedly to one of the main characters--Mandy. Like Mandy, I tend to run late all the time, appear completely disheveled no matter how hard I plan, and I even hear my mother's voice in my head when I encounter guys who could be potential "dates."  Although I'm not a food critic, I do love to eat, and I enjoy trying out new restaurants in the Tampa Bay area, and I almost always order a table for one.  

Table for Two involved many topics that everyone struggles with--{unfulfilled dreams and shattered promises, daily busyness in life, feelings of never measuring up, a personal relationship with God, aging parents, and of course, love}--without seeming unbearable and preachy.

I was tickled reading the thoughts Mandy and Leo were having that the other one was unaware of because it reminds me of every new relationship I've encountered in my life, and the feelings and thoughts I had while in it.  Does he really like me?   I wonder if he feels the same way?   Is he going to kiss me? Should I kiss him? How can he treat me like this?  If it's meant to be, something will happen. Do I look okay?  Can I really trust him? And so on and so on...

While I'm sure this is a stand-alone book, I would like to read more about Mandy and Leo, possibly through Angelina, or even Mandy's friend Ashley, with romances of their own.  (Hint...Hint...)

Overall, this was a great read and I think you will like it too!

Let me know what you think and Happy Reading!!