Monday, November 30, 2015


Do You Believe in Santa?
Evergreen Lane #1
By: Sierra Donovan
Released September 29, 2015

Miracles don’t just happen on 34th Street. They can happen right in your living room—if you’re willing to believe…

What grown woman claims to have seen Santa Claus? Mandy Reese, for one—on a very special Christmas Eve when she was eight years old. These days, Mandy works at a year-round Christmas store in Tall Pine, California, where customers love to hear about her childhood encounter with Saint Nick. But when Jake Wyndham arrives in town—charming, gorgeous, extremely practical—Mandy faces a dilemma. Deny what she saw, or let Jake think she’s sugarplum crazy?

Jake scouts hotel locations all over the country, but he’s never met anyone quite like Mandy before. Her warmth and sparkle are irresistible, but…meeting Santa? Really? Jake’s no Scrooge but he’s definitely skeptical. Then again, there are all kinds of things Jake never experienced until he came to Tall Pine. Like autumn snow. Mind blowing kisses. And the magic of falling head-over-heels, madly in love…

Most days, Mandy brought her own lunch and ate it in the back room, but today she felt like getting out.

She stepped onto the sidewalk and breathed in the evergreen scent that Tall Pine was blessed with all year round. Most people who lived here said they stopped smelling it after a while, but Mandy never did, and she never got tired of it.

Not sure what she was hungry for, she turned to the right of the store, where most of the restaurants were located. As she approached the Pine ’n’ Dine, she noticed a familiar-looking man seated at a table near the black wrought-iron fence that enclosed the restaurant’s patio. Thick brown hair, light blue polo shirt, khaki slacks . . . and a folded bag from The North Pole on the table in front of him. Yep. It was the man who’d just bought the pinecone necklace.

He was facing the street corner just past the cafe, his left side to the street, giving Mandy a view of his profile. He leaned slightly back in his chair, a large tablet of paper resting on his knee. A pen or pencil moved over the page, and as she got closer, Mandy made out a studious expression on his face. Sketching? Curious, she stepped closer to the wrought iron fence, trying to sneak a glimpse.

Instead of a drawing, she saw a lined sheet with columns of handwritten figures.

Numbers, she thought. Disappointed, she started to sidle away, but her shoe scraped on the gravel, and he turned in her direction.

The slight furrow disappeared from his brow, and a wide smile crossed his face. “Hey, it’s the Christmas girl.”

His quick transformation caught Mandy off guard. “That’s what they call me.”

“Always?” As she fumbled for a response, he prodded, “You must have a name.”

“Mandy.” She smiled. “Mandy Reese.”

“Jake Wyndham.” Straightening in his chair, he held out a hand to her over the bars of the little fence. “It’s nice to run into you again.”

She took his hand and felt her smile get bigger. “Long time no see.”

Brown eyes met hers with a steady, perceptive look. No wonder she’d pegged him for an artist, instead of an accountant or whatever he was. Mandy fought off a sense of self-consciousness.

Jake released her hand and shifted in his chair. “So, help me out.” With his pencil, he tapped the menu on the table in front of him. “I haven’t ordered yet. What’s good here?”

That was easy. “I love the Chinese chicken salad.”

He nodded. “Do you have a second choice, keeping in mind that I’m a guy?”

Mandy fumbled for a response. Was he flirting with her? It wasn’t like she had a lot of practice, so it was hard to tell. The local men her own age were all the same ones who’d teased her in school, and the clientele at The North Pole wasn’t heavily male. Last summer a customer had asked her out, but she didn’t think one sixteen-year-old blond surfer dude really counted. Mandy Reese. Twenty-four- year-old cougar.

“I don’t suppose you’d care to join me?” he asked.

Her heart thumped. Maybe he was flirting, or maybe he was just being friendly. Either way, she didn’t take long to debate her answer. “Sure.”

Mandy circled to the restaurant’s entrance to join him. Didn’t he know she hadn’t even gone to her prom? Of course he didn’t. Not that this was anything like prom. Just a friendly lunch, not exactly a date.

After they ordered, Mandy nodded toward the tablet Jake had stashed on the unoccupied chair at his right. “So, what’s with all the numbers?”

“Well, here’s the deal.” Jake glanced at the pad of figures. “I work for Regal Hotels. It’s a national chain. Have you heard of it?”

She recognized the name from television commercials. Mandy nodded.

“They sent me to see about opening a new location out here. Sometimes things look good on paper, but you can’t be sure until you come up and see a place.” He nodded at the pad on the chair, like a third party at their lunch. “So far it feels great. This is a really nice little town.”

He looked at her as if he were paying her a personal compliment. When Mandy didn’t respond, he went on.

“So for starters, I come up here, talk to some people, crunch some numbers. Get a feel for the population, how much tourist traffic there is, cost of putting in a location. That’s step one. If everything looks good, I start working with city officials, checking into land availability, permits, that kind of thing.”

“Oh.” So their little chat was actually a fact-finding mission. Mandy looked at the tablet again. She decided she didn’t much care for the uninvited guest on the chair between them.

Something else about his mission niggled, and she wasn’t sure what it was.

“Tall Pine is more than numbers,” she heard herself say.

“Of course it is.” His brown eyes took on a puzzled look. “That’s why I’m here.”

Their waitress arrived with their drinks—a Coke for Jake, iced tea for Mandy. The interruption gave Mandy a chance to remember that he was just\ doing his job. She plucked the slice of lemon from the edge of her glass and adjusted her expectations, officially filing this lunch under not-a-date.

“You say you’ve lived here your whole life?” he asked when the waitress left.

She nodded.

He rested his chin on his folded hands. “And you don’t like the idea of someone coming here and sizing up your town.”

“I guess that’s it.” She stirred her tea. “Sorry. Nothing personal.”

“Don’t be sorry. It’s your home.” Jake contemplated her. “It’s smaller than the other areas I’ve worked in,” he said. “We’ve been in the major cities for a long time, and a whole lot of the suburbs too. The thinking is, when we branch out to nice tourist towns like this one, customers can find a place to stay that’s consistent. We’re not fancy, but we’re dependable. People know what to expect from a national chain.”

That was the problem.

“You’re going to have a hard time here,” she said.

“How so?”

“You’re talking about a national chain. Look around you.”

Jake obliged, casting his gaze up and down the sun-dappled street.

“Do you see any fast-food franchises? Chain department stores? Even our grocery store is mom--and-pop.”

“And I’ll bet you pay higher prices because of that.”

“Maybe.” She shrugged. “The nearest town is Rolling Hills, and they don’t have a chain grocery either. I’d say the nearest one is an hour away, so I don’t go comparison shopping. Some people go down the hill to buy their groceries once a week, or a couple times a month—”

“And the town loses business that way.”

Mandy bit her lip.

He leaned forward. “You see, once a Regal Hotel opened up here, there’d be more jobs. More shoppers. More money would stay up here, because you’d have more customers for your stores.”

She couldn’t argue with that. But—“You’re missing the point.” She gestured out toward the sidewalk. “It’s deliberate. They’ve made it a point to keep big nationwide businesses out of Tall Pine. So it doesn’t look like every other town in America. It has its own personality. Its own—”

“Character.” He nodded. “I get what you’re saying. But if you weigh the benefits—”

He was back to ledger sheets again. She held up her hands. “Remember, it’s not me you need to convince.”

“But it’s a lot of people who feel the same way you do.” He didn’t seem particularly wounded. In fact, he smiled. “A small army of Mandys.”

She felt the corners of her mouth tug up. “Makes me sound kind of dangerous.”

“Oh, I can think of worse things.”

Their food arrived. At a loss, Mandy jabbed at her Chinese chicken salad. Here she was, across the table from a nice-looking man who seemed like a decent person, and she was arguing with him. And he was being so calm and reasonable she had no right to get mad at him.

“Hey,” he said when they’d been eating in silence for a minute or so.

Mandy looked up. His eyes were serious now. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone had looked at her so directly. Why did he have to be talking about hotels, for heaven’s sake?

“Thanks for being honest. You’ve given me an idea what I’ll be going up against, and I understand.” His eyes wouldn’t let her go. “But I want you to know—I’m not here to ruin any of this. I meant what I said. I’ve just been here a few hours, and I really like it. I won’t be bringing in bulldozers towing in half a dozen McDonald’s or what-have-you. It’s just one hotel.”

“But as soon as there’s one chain outfit, it opens the door for more. That’s the way the town council’s going to see it.”

He nodded, and they finished their lunch.

When the waitress brought their bill, Mandy reached across the table for it. “How much do I—?”

Jake brought his hand out and laid it on top of hers. “No. My treat. I invited you.”

He imagined a warm little current running from her hand to his. Maybe she felt it too, because her blue eyes looked at him uncertainly.

“Thank you.” Her smile, so quick at the store, was a little dimmer out here.

“No problem.” He returned her smile, hoping to bring up the wattage in hers. “I enjoyed the company.”

That reserved look remained, and it dawned on him: this had started out as a friendly lunch, and he’d been all business. Stupid.

Jake set out his payment card in the plastic tray the waitress provided. He used his personal card rather than the corporate one, although the company paid for his meals when he was on the road. Mandy wouldn’t be aware of the difference, but he’d know.

The waitress brought his card back, Jake signed the payment slip, and they rose to leave. “Mandy, I want to ask you two favors.”


“People don’t know why I’m here yet. For the first couple days, I’d like to keep it that way while I’m asking around about things. It’s easier to get a natural answer when they’re not thinking about why I’m asking. Could you not mention it to anyone yet?”

“Okay,” she said cautiously.

“Number two.” He drew himself up a little straighter and plunged ahead. “I just wasted a perfectly good lunch talking business with you. It’s not what I planned on. Would you go out with me tonight? No shoptalk this time. I promise.”

The faint furrows between her brows faded.

“You mean, like dinner?”

“Dinner, maybe a movie—you name it.”

She seemed . . . what? Unsure what he meant? Resistant to the idea? The sandwich he’d just eaten formed a ball in Jake’s stomach. He must have come off like a real jerk.

“Okay,” she said, still looking a little confounded.

“Where can I pick you up? I’ll meet you at the store if that makes you more comfortable.”

“Oh.” She glanced down at her clothes. The simple blouse and slacks she wore now looked fine to Jake.

“You wouldn’t need to change unless you really want to,” he said. “That is, we could save the caviar and escargot for the second date. I mean, if you . . .” He trailed off.

And suddenly, there it was. A warm smile, worthy of the ones he’d seen back at the store. Jake’s stomach loosened.

“I was just thinking I should go home and get a sweater before we go. It gets a little chillier at night.” Mandy dipped back down to the table and grabbed a paper napkin. “I’ll write down directions.”

“I have a GPS.”

She fished a pen out of her purse. “The roads up here give GPS nightmares.”

She leaned over the table, and Jake watched dark waves of hair fall against her cheek as she filled the napkin with a series of lines, curves, and captions with street names. To his relief, she added her address and phone number at the bottom. Which one would get him lost first, between Mandy’s directions and his GPS—at this point, he couldn’t tell.

He took the napkin from her and squinted. “Let’s see. Turn left at the X, follow the squiggly line, make a right at the arrow—”

“Hush. You’ll thank me.”

They parted on the sidewalk, with Mandy heading back to her store while Jake continued his walking tour. He’d just had lunch, but he felt lighter as he headed down the street.

Then he rounded a corner, and his cell phone went crazy.

Bzzt. Bzzt.

He pulled the cumbersome thing out of his pocket and watched the messages load.

When it was over, he saw he’d missed eleven e-mails, three texts and a voice mail. Probably Mark at the home office, wondering if Jake had fallen into a hole. He scrolled back and found that the string of messages started at ten-fifteen. Obviously, Tall Pine was in a cell phone dead spot with occasional pockets of service.

Oddly enough, he hadn’t even noticed until now.

Mandy-the-Christmas-girl had gotten him a little distracted.

He liked her. A lot. A light shroud of shyness seemed to surround her, but he hadn’t seen a hint of it in the shop, or while she’d balked at the idea of his planting a hotel in her hometown. He wondered if she was right about the reaction he could expect from the rest of Tall Pine.

Jake thought about the look on her face when he told her why he’d come here. Startled. Disillusioned. Maybe even betrayed.

Almost like he’d told her there was no Santa Claus.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is my second book from this Author and I absolutely love it!!
Sierra Donovan has a tremendous gift, she can write clean, sweet, romantic and cheerful stories.
Do You Believe In Santa? is full of hope, christmas souvenirs, a great little town, and two likeable main characters, Mandy and Jake are perfect for each other, she's naive, smart, sweet and claims that she saw Santa. Jake is practical, funny, hard worker and he's falling for Mandy.
The plot flows easy, with great amounts of christmas spirits, lovely characters and full of positive vibes!!
This is a Perfect read for the upcoming holidays.
Highly Recommended!!
*I received a Free Copy in exchange for an Honest review*

Buy Links:   Amazon | B & N | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info
Sierra Donovan is a wife, a mother of two and a writer, though not always in that order. Her greatest joy is helping people find true love on the printed page. She is a firm believer in Christmas, classic movies, happy endings and the healing power of chocolate. Sierra’s first novel, Love On The Air, was a Holt Medallion finalist. Her 2014 Kensington debut, No Christmas Like The Present, won the Golden Quill Award for Sweet Traditional Romance. Her 2015 novel, Do You Believe In Santa? marks the beginning of Sierra's new Evergreen Lane series. You can email Sierra at, or visit her website at
Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads 

3 Paperback copies of DO YOU BELIEVE IN SANTA?

Friday, November 27, 2015


Tested by the Night
by Maxine Mansfield


GENRE: Erotic Fantasy



Mia Hammerstrike was always the meek, mild mannered, spare to the heir. But when her brother abdicates his position as heir to the throne of Alaria, she is faced with a decision—marry a man to rule her people or take on Queen Adrina’s Challenge so that she can someday rule the country herself. After all, why should gender decide her future? Granted, the broad shouldered, dreamy eyed barbarian sent to look after her during her quest makes her VoT glad she's of the female persuasion.

Barbarian Talon Starkweather made a promise a long time ago, and now he must make good on it. He must play bodyguard to his best friend's sister, a little princess on a big mission. There are those who want her to fail, but he vows to help the barbarian princess earn the right to rule. There's only one problem—while he's protecting the stubborn and insatiably lusty female, who is going to protect Talon from the one woman trying not only his patience but also his willpower?

Their journey leads to danger, passion, and a battle of wills, and both will find themselves Tested by the Night.



Fav. Passage :
He nuzzled her neck again, and shivers of delight scampered up and down her spine, landing with a resounding thud right in the middle of her belly.

“When a starving man is set before a fine feast such as you, princess, he does not simply gobble his meal down and walk away. Oh, no, he savors every morsel of it, dines to near bursting, and thoroughly licks his plate clean afterward in appreciation.”


Tested by the Night (The Academy #5)Tested by the Night by Maxine Mansfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tested By The Night is a sexy, steamy and hot-wet read.
Set in a fantastic paranormal world, surrounded with dragons, gnomes, witchcraft, castles, we have a strong warrior and an independent princess, each one fighting their own demons, and at the same time drawn together by a really strong physical connection, their chemistry and sexual tension is hot, hot, hot.
The plot is fast paced, with good dialogues and a great fantastic world with interesting characters.
It's an enjoyable story, recommended for reading on lonely and loveless nights.
*I received a Free copy in exchange for an Honest Review*

View all my reviews


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Hi, my name is Maxine Mansfield and I write fantasy, erotic romances. I live in the far northern state of Alaska where the summer days are long and the winter nights even longer. I have one very special man, his three equally special children, and our six delightful grandchildren in my life. Not to mention a very bossy African Grey parrot named Gabriel. Oh, and gnomes! Many, many gnomes! Visit Maxine at


Maxine Mansfield will be awarding $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Roman's holiday cover

Roman's Holiday by Susan Aylworth
Four years after Roman Kincaid was catapulted into stardom as a country-western singer and A-list movie star, he is burned out: exhausted by a grueling schedule, drained by the ceaseless demands of producers and managers, weary of meeting the needs of others at the expense of his own. Leaving a sold-out show in Phoenix, he rents a car and drives north and east, landing in the Painted Desert town of Rainbow Rock.
Nearly three years after leaving her old life behind, Lottie Beale is feeding people and baking pies, managing the Kachina Café and tending secrets of her own. When circumstances conspire to give two attractive people some time alone together amid the world-class vistas of the Four Corners, they discover more than either had bargained for.


“Ro-man! Ro-man!” A capacity crowd in the Ak-Chin Pavilion chanted his name under the starry desert sky, but Roman Kincaid barely heard it. He stood in the stage wings, gearing up for an encore and wondering when his dream had become a nightmare.
“Okay, guys,” he said to his back-up band via their ear buds. “One encore only. Let’s do ‘Gamble.’ Start with the chorus.” He took two steps toward the stage entrance, swinging his guitar into playing position.
Sam, his manager, caught his elbow. “Are you sure about this? That crowd adores you. You could probably play three encores, sell more CDs—”
“No.” Roman left no room for argument. “One and done. And no backstage stuff, either. I’m outta here.” He took a deep breath, pasted on the same fake, crowd-pleasing smile he’d used in the last half-dozen shows, and jogged back onto the stage to the roar of twenty thousand excited voices. He strummed the intro and launched into the chorus of his first number-one hit:
“Love is such a gamble.
You break a new deck every time.
Sometimes you’re dealt the aces;
Others you draw to nines.
But when I met you, I knew it was true.
A winning hand you seemed.
Now I have the rush of a royal flush.
You are the gamble of my dreams.”
The crowd cheered wildly as he played his way through the music he now sang in his sleep. In fact, he realized as he watched fans taking up the beat and clapping along, that was pretty much what he was doing now. He struggled to suppress a yawn during the guitar interlude as he turned to acknowledge his band.
I spent my early life dreaming of a crowd like this. When did performing start to feel like a chore? He put the thought away. Lately he’d been thinking of times when he’d heard of some celebrity being hospitalized for exhaustion and assumed it was a euphemism for drug rehab. Now he wondered. When was the last time I felt truly rested? The question was an imponderable. Months, at least.
He hit the last chord and took a deep bow, then shouted, “Thank you, Phoenix!” and dashed off-stage.

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Susan A

Author Susan Aylworth
Susan Aylworth started her first book when she was nine. "It was called Buff, The Proud Stallion. I wrote eight whole pages." For her fifth grade career day, she stated her ambition to become "a rich and famous author." Decades later, she is pleased to have achieved the 'author' part of that goal. A former university professor, she enjoys researching backgrounds and careers for her novels. "It's one way to live many lives at once." She lives in northern California with her husband of 45 years and two spoiled cats.


Book Blast Giveaway - $50 Amazon Gift Card or $50 in Paypal Cash

Ends 12/11/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Harry Starke
by Blair Howard


GENRE: Mystery/Crime Fiction



It's midnight on a cold and snowy night in January when a beautiful young girl, Tabitha Willard, throws herself off the Walnut Street Bridge. Harry Starke happens to be there. Wrong time, wrong place? Maybe. Although he tries, he is unable to stop her. Thus begins a series of events and an investigation that involves a local United States congressman, a senior lady senator from Boston, a local crime boss, several very nasty individuals, sex, extortion, high finance, and three murders. Harry has to work his way through a web of deceit and corruption until finally.... Well, as always, there's a twist in the tale, several in fact.

Harry Starke is a big fish in a small pond. He's a tough individual with a past and a conscience. He has friends in high places. He’s single, successful, wealthy, a womanizer, well educated, and he will hurt you if he needs to. This book is the first in the series of Harry Starke novels.



"You're about as transparent as that window, Benny. Maybe more so. It's filthy. Now tell me the truth."

"Screw you, Starke. I don't have tell you nothin'. Get the hell out of my office, and stay outa the bar too."

I sat there for a moment, contemplating his fat face, then I nodded and rose to my feet, but I didn't leave. I walked around the desk, reached inside my jacket and pulled out the MP9, and sat down on the desk facing him.

"Whoa." He leaned away from me, his eyes wide, his hands in front of him, fingers spread.

"Now then, Benny. There are two ways we can do this; either way you'll tell me what I want to know. So, what do you think? Painful or not?"

"Harry, I swear I don't know those two guys. I barely even noticed 'em."

I nodded, and then tapped him gently on the bridge of his nose with the barrel of the nine."

"Ow, ow, ow." he yelled. "That hurt, you son of a bitch."

"I asked you, Benny... painful or not? You chose painful." I tapped him again.

"Oh ow. Goddam it, Harry. Quit it. You'll bust my nose."

"Yup, it's quite likely I will. You ready to talk?"

"I told ya, I don't know who they are."

Smack! This time I laid the flat side of the gun hard against his ear.

"Uch, uch, uch, uch, uch," Hah, the man was actually crying, sobbing as he rubbed his ear. The bridge of his nose was already turning black.

I grabbed his right hand and slammed it down on the desktop, fingers spread.

"Benny, you want to talk to me, before I start on your fingers?"

"Okay, okay." He nodded enthusiastically.

"They... they... work... for the Packman."

"The Packman? You mean Lester Tree, Shady?"


Harry Starke (The Harry Starke Novels Book 1)Harry Starke by Blair Howard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book that I read from this Author (The first one is "Three Days in Hell: A Novel of the American Civil War" if you haven't read it, grab a copy), so this one is a little different, but a good type of different.
Harry Starke is a fantastic character, with so many layers, he's funny, tough, fearless, smart., and he found himself in a situation where he can put all that into work. The result is a great book, full of mystery, deception, intrigue, corruption, action and good amount of twists and turns. Will our resourceful hero be able of get into the bottom of this case?
Harry Starke is fast paced and wonderful written, the Author has the ability of introduce us into this rich world of characters and situations, that leaves you wanting more and happy to know that's going to be a second book!!
I highly recommend this book to all type of readers.
*I received a Free copy in exchange for an Honest Review*

View all my reviews


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Blair Howard was born and raised in England. He writes sweeping historical epics, and is the author of four historical novels, with a fifth due to be released at the end of July this year: be on the lookout for Three Days in Hell: a Novel of the American Civil War. His current novels are: Chickamauga: a Novel of the American Civil War; The Mule Soldiers: a Novel of the American Civil War; The Chase: a Novel of the American Civil War: and Comanche: a Novel of the Old West. His new book, Harry Starke, mystery novel will be available on September 4, 2015 All of Blair's books are available on Amazon as eBooks or Paperbacks.

Blair is also a travel writer and professional photographer specializing in golf travel, vacation travel, and golf course photography. His travels take him throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean playing golf, writing about his experiences, and photographing the golf courses he visits. You can follow him on here:

Blair is the author of more than 40 books and more than 4,500 magazine, newspaper, and web articles. His work has appeared in many national and international publications, including Delta's Sky Magazine, PHOTOgraphic magazine, The Mail on Sunday, The Walking Magazine, Petersen's Hunting Magazine, The Boston Herald, The Detroit Free-Press, The Anchorage Times and many more.

Visit Blair's blog:
Blair's Website is:
On Twitter @bcwhoward


Blair Howard will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner