Monday, December 30, 2019

BLOG TOUR - Husband Material


Told in Emily Belden's signature edgy voice, a novel about a young widow's discovery of her late husband's secret and her journey toward hope and second-chance love.

Twenty-nine-year-old Charlotte Rosen has a secret: she’s a widow. Ever since the fateful day that leveled her world, Charlotte has worked hard to move forward. Great job at a hot social media analytics company? Check. Roommate with no knowledge of her past? Check. Adorable dog? Check. All the while, she’s faithfully data-crunched her way through life, calculating the probability of risk—so she can avoid it.

Yet Charlotte’s algorithms could never have predicted that her late husband’s ashes would land squarely on her doorstep five years later. Stunned but determined, Charlotte sets out to find meaning in this sudden twist of fate, even if that includes facing her perfectly coiffed, and perfectly difficult, ex-mother-in-law—and her husband’s best friend, who seems to become a fixture at her side whether she likes it or not.

But soon a shocking secret surfaces, forcing Charlotte to answer questions she never knew to ask and to consider the possibility of forgiveness. And when a chance at new love arises, she’ll have to decide once and for all whether to follow the numbers or trust her heart.

Advance Praise for Husband Material

“Tackling thorny questions of widowhood and dating after trauma, Belden's second novel is witty, full of heart, and blindingly au courant. Packed with pop-culture references, it will appeal to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Rosie Walsh, and Plum Sykes. Belden writes twists and turns to keep readers hooked.” —Booklist

“Charming.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sensitive, thoughtful, and touching.” —Library Journal

“In this touching, witty, and timely book, Emily Belden deftly explores the complexities of human relationships in our increasingly tech-obsessed world. By turns heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, Husband Material beautifully demonstrates that you can't reduce love to a bunch of 1s and 0s.” —Kristin Rockaway, author of How To Hack a Heartbreak


Please enjoy the following excerpt:

Well, that’s a first.

And I’m not talking about the fact that I brought a date to a wedding I’m pretty sure didn’t warrant me a plus-one. I’m talking about grabbing a wedding card that just so happened to say “Congrats, Mr. & Mr.” on my way to cele­brate the nuptials of the most iconic heterosexual couple since George and Amal. This—and a king-sized KitKat bar from the checkout lane—is what I get for rushing through the greet­ing card aisle in Target while my Uber driver waited in the loading zone with his f lashers on.

It’s Monica and Danny’s big day. She’s my coworker, whose gorgeous face is constantly lining the glossy pages of Luxe LA magazine. Not only because she’s one of the leading ladies at Forbes’s new favorite company, The Influencer Firm, but because this socialite-turned-CEO is now married to Dan­iel Jones—head coach of the LA Galaxy, Los Angeles’s pro­fessional soccer team. If you’re thinking he must look like a derivative of an American David Beckham, you’re basically there. Let’s just hope their sense of humor is as good as their looks when they see the card I accidentally picked out.

Before I place it on the gift table, I stuff the envelope with a crisp hundred-dollar bill fresh from the ATM. Side note: I think wedding registries are bullshit. Everybody wants an ice cream maker until you have one and never use it, which is why I spring for cold, hard cash instead. I grab a black Sharpie marker from the guest book table, pop the cap off, and attempt to squeeze in a nondescript s after the second “Mr.,” hoping my makeshift, hand-drawn serif font letter doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. I blow on the fresh ink, then hold the pseudo Pinterest-fail an arm’s length away. That’ll do, I think to myself.

I lift a glass of red wine from a caterer’s tray as if we cho­reographed the move and check the time on my Apple Watch, which arguably isn’t the most fashionable accessory when dressing for a chic summer wedding. But aside from the fact that it doesn’t quite match my strapless pale yellow cocktail dress, it serves a much greater purpose for me. It keeps my data front and center, right where I want it, not on my phone buried somewhere deep in my purse. Bonus: the band, smack-dab on the middle of my wrist, also covers a tattoo I’ve been meaning to have lasered off.

Other than telling me the time, 7:30 p.m., it also serves up my most recent Tinder notifications. I’ve gotten four new matches since this morning, which isn’t bad for a) a Saturday, since most people do their Tindering while zoning out at work or bored in bed at night; and b) a pushing-thirty New York native whose most recent relationship was the love-hate one with a stubborn last ten pounds. That’s me, by the way. Charlotte Rosen.

Though present and accounted for now, the battle of Tide pen vs. toothpaste stain went on for longer than I intended back at my apartment, causing me to arrive about half an hour late to the cocktail hour. Which means I for sure missed Monica and Dan’s ceremony in its entirety. I, of all people, know that’s rude. I’m someone who is hypersensitive to people’s arrival ten­dencies (well, to all measurable tendencies, to be honest; more on that later). But I’m sort of glad I missed the I Dos, as there is still something about witnessing the exchange of vows that makes me a little squeamish. I got married five years ago and, well, I’m not married anymore—let’s put it that way.
The good news is that with time, I can feel it’s definitely getting easier to come to things like this. To believe that the couple really will stay together through it all. To believe that there is such a thing as “the one”—even if it may actually be “the other” that I’m looking for this next go-round.

Late as I may be to the wedding party, there are some perks to my delayed arrival. Namely, the line at the bar has died down enough for me to trade up this mediocre red wine for a decent gin and tonic. Another perk? Several fresh platters of bacon-wrapped dates have just descended like UFOs onto the main floor of the venue, which happens to be a barn from the 1800s. Except this is Los Angeles, and there are no barns from the 1800s. So instead, every creaky floorboard, every corroded piece of siding, and every decrepit roof shingle has been sourced from deep in the countryside of southwest Iowa to create the sense that guests are surrounded by rolling fields, fragrant orchard blossoms, and fruiting trees. The reality being that just outside the wooden walls of the coveted, three-year-long-wait-list Oak Mill Barn stands honking, gridlocked traf­fic on the 405 and an accompanying smog alert.

As I continue to wait for my impromptu wedding date, Chad, to come back from the bathroom, I robotically swipe left on the first three guys who pop up on Bumble, another dating app I’m on, then finally decide to message a guy who looks like a bright-eyed Jason Bateman (you know, pre-Ozark) and is a stockbroker, according to his profile. We end up matching and he asks me for drinks. I vaguely accept. Wel­come to dating in LA.

I’ve conducted some research that has shown that after the age of thirty, it becomes exponentially harder to find your fu­ture husband. What number constitutes exponentially? I’m not sure yet, but I’m working on narrowing in on that because generalities don’t really cut it for me. Thinking through things logically like this centers me, calms me, and resets me—no matter what life throws my way. All that’s to say, I’m officially in my last good year of dating (and my last year of not having to include a night serum in my skin care regimen), and I’m determined not to wind up with my dog, my roommate, and a few low-maintenance houseplants as my sole life partners.

“Sorry that took so long,” says Chad, returning from the men’s room twenty minutes after leaving. “Did you know the bathroom at this place is an actual outhouse? Thank god it was leg day at the gym—I had to squat over the pot. My quads are burning nice now.”

Confession. I didn’t just bring a date to the wedding, I brought a blind date.

No worries, though. Monica knows how serious I am about the path to Mr. Right and supports the fact that I go on my fair share of dates to get me there quicker. Plus, he isn’t a total stranger; she knows him—or, she met him, rather. He attended her work event last week at the LA County Museum of Art and is supposedly this cute, single real estate something or other. Of course he tried to hit on her and, unlike most beau­tiful people in Los Angeles, Monica actually copped to being in a committed relationship with Danny. (Who doesn’t like to brag they’re marrying Mr. Galaxy himself?) So she did the next best thing and gave him her single coworker’s Instagram handle and told him to slide into my DMs. It’s a bold move on her part, but I appreciate her quick thinking and commit­ment to my cause, Operation: Reclassify My Marital Status.

Since Chad first messaged me a week ago, I’ve done my homework on him. And I’m not talking about just your basic cyber stalking. I’m talking about procuring and sifting through real, bona fide data. It’s essentially a version of what I’m paid to do for a living—track down all the “influencers,” people with a lot of fans and followers on the internet, and match them to events we plan for our clients so they can post on so­cial media and boost our clients’ profiles.

Some may think my side-project software, the one that com­putes how much of a match I am with someone, is a bit…much, but I don’t see it that way at all. I’m on the hunt for a man who is a true match for me—one who won’t just up and leave in the blink of an eye. I left things up to fate once and look how that turned out. I’ll be damned if I do it that way again.

While I studied up on Chad, I conducted a hefty “image search,” yielding about a hundred photos of him that have been uploaded across a variety of social platforms over the years. In real life, I’m pleased to say he checks out. Chad is over six feet tall, tanned, and toned, with coiffed Zac Efron hair that’s on the verge of being described as “a bit extra.” From the shoul­ders up, he’s an emoji. A walking, talking emoji. But as I step back and admire him in his expertly tailored suit, he looks like a contestant on The Bachelor. In retrospect, Chad is just the right amount of good-looking to complement my physical appearance, which can be described as a made-for-TV version of an otherwise good-looking actress.

“Something to drink, sir?” one of the caterers asks Chad.

“Yes. A spicy margarita. Unless… Wait. Do you make the margarita mix yourselves? Or is it, like, that sugary store-bought crap?”

Eek. I had forgotten my discovery that Chad is a bit of a…wellness guru. I guess so is everyone in LA, but I can’t help but be taken aback when I hear that there are people who actually care about the scientific makeup of margarita mix.

“Fuck it. Too many calories either way,” Chad announces before giving the waitress a chance to answer his question. “I’ll just take a whiskey.”

“Splash of Coke?”

“God, no. So many empty calories.”

With his drink order in, Chad rolls his neck around and pops bones I never knew existed. Then, one by one, the joints in his fingers. The sound makes me a bit queasy but I’m try­ing to focus on the positive, like his beautiful hazel eyes and the fact that cherry tomatoes and mini mozzarella balls with an injection of balsamic vinegar are the latest and greatest munchie to hit the floor.

Chad turns to me with a smile, his palm connecting with the small of my back. “Should we find our seats? What table are we at?”

Good question, I think to myself. I’m at table six. Chad is…on a fold-up chair we will have to ask a caterer to squeeze between me and Monica’s great-aunt Sally? I kind of forgot to mention to him that I didn’t really get an official okay to bring him tonight.

“Table six,” I say pleasantly with a smile.
“Six is my lucky number. Well, that, and nine, if you know what I mean,” Chad says with a wink accompanied by an ac­tual thumbs-up.

The waitress comes back with his whiskey neat, and he proposes we clink our glasses in a toast to meeting up as we make our way to the table. Still not over the lingering effects of his immature, pervy sixty-nine joke, I reluctantly concede to do the cheers with the perpetual high-schooler.

“So, what did you think of Monica’s event?” I say to break the ice as we take our seats at the luckily empty round table.

“Well, I don’t really know what she does for a living, but she is fine as hell. I mean, that’s why I hit on her last week at the LACMA. Sure, I saw the ring on her finger, but couldn’t resist saying hi to a goddess like her. My god, that woman is something else.”

I nod in agreement. Partly because, yes, Monica Hoang needs her own beauty column in Marie Claire, stat. And partly because I’m too shocked by his crass demeanor to really do or say anything else. Did I say Chad reminded me of a contes­tant on The Bachelor? I think I meant he reminds me of a guy who gets sent home on night one of The Bachelor.

“She said you’re a real estate…attorney, was it?” I awk­wardly segue. “What’s your favorite neighborhood in Los Angeles?”

It sounds like I’m interviewing him for a job, which in a way, I am. But had I known the conversation was going to be like forcefully wringing out a damp rag, just hoping to squeeze out something semidecent, I would have never invited him to join me at the wedding. In fact, I likely wouldn’t have gone through with a date, of any kind, at all. Conversation skills rank high on my list of preferred qualities in a mate. Looks like he’s the exception to the rule that attorneys are good lin­guists, because my app sure as shit didn’t predict this fail.

So how does my software work, then? Well, it’s all about compatibility. My algorithm is programmed to know what I like and what I’m looking for in the long term. So to see if a guy is a match, I comb through his online profiles, enter the facts I find out about him, and generate a report that indi­cates how likely he is to be my future husband or how likely we would be to get a divorce, for example. One of the most helpful stats is how likely we are to go on a second date. I’ve determined that anyone scoring above 70 percent means that chances are good we’d go out again. And, well, a second date is the first step to marriage. You get the point. Anyone below a 70, I ignore and move on. Chad pulled a 74, which is a solid C if you’re using a high school grading system. Not stellar, but certainly passable with room for improvement.

As it’s turning out, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

“Huh? I’m not in real estate,” he says with a confused look on his face.

“Oh, Monica said you were an attorney at Laird & Hutchin­son?”

“Well, yes, that’s the name of our firm. The Laird side is real estate. But they acquired Hutchinson a couple years ago, and that’s the side of the practice I work on.”

“What kind of law is Hutchinson?”

“We’re the ‘Life’s too short, get a divorce!’ guys. You’ve probably seen a few of our company’s billboards.”

Chad slides his business card my way, and as soon as I see the logo, I picture those billboards slathered all over the bus stop benches down Laurel Canyon Drive and feel physically ill. Not only because he’s in the business of making divorce seem cheeky, but also because I’m wondering what other things I might have missed or gotten wrong about Chad.

“Wait. So have you ever been divorced?” The question pops off my tongue involuntarily. As soon as the words come out, I remember he reserves the right to ask me the same question in return and immediately regret posing it. I’m not ready to explain the demise of my first marriage.

“Me? Nah. Never married.”

Luckily, a server reappears to take our dinner order. But let it be known that if Chad had asked, I would have explained that I didn’t give up on my life partner because I was frus­trated he failed to load a dishwasher in any sort of methodical way. I didn’t just get bored and say “screw it,” chalking the whole thing up as just a starter marriage (google it, this is a thing now). In fact, if anyone abruptly left anyone, he aban­doned me out of nowhere.

“Would you like the chicken and veggies or the short rib and scalloped potatoes?” the caterer asks me.

“Short rib and potatoes,” I say, a game-time decision made entirely by my growling stomach.

At that, Chad looks at me like I rolled into the Vatican wear­ing a tube top. “You sure about that, Char? There are so many hidden carbs in potatoes,” he whispers with a hint of disgust.

First off, Char is reserved for people with a little more ten­ure in my life, thankyouverymuch. And secondly—

“Yes, I’m sure. An extra scoop of potatoes if possible,” I say, loud enough for our waitress, who jots down the special instruction.

“Chicken for me. Extra veggies,” my 74 percent match re­quests.

There it is. His wellness obsession flaring up again. I’m racking my brain for what to say next to a guy who screams “dead end” to me.

Excerpted from Husband Material by Emily Belden, Copyright © 2019 by Emily Belden. Published by Graydon House Books.


Title:   Husband Material
Author:  Emily Belden
Genre:   Romance (Romantic Comedy)
Publisher:  Harlequin
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:    304
Date of Publication:     September 24, 2019
My Rating:   4 Stars

Charlotte Rosen does nothing better than making magic with numbers and data. However, her love life leaves a lot to be desired...

She has a great job at a social media analytic company, with the focus of bringing couples together. Charlotte has a gift of matching people based on her algorithms. When she suddenly receives her late husband Decker's ashes - as the mausoleum where they were stored was in the direct path of a disastrous wildfire. 

What is Charlotte going to do with these ashes? Furthermore, what is she going to do now that her ex-mother-in-law Debbie Austin is back, in her face, and is demanding custody of said ashes? Another person back in her life is her ex-husband's best friend Brian. And, as if things were not complicated enough, Charlotte has discovered a shocking secret that makes Charlotte begin to question several things about her life, her marriage, and her future.

While trying to keep the ashes out of Debbie's clutches she struggles to locate a place to rehome the ashes. Meanwhile, she is still crunching numbers when it comes to work. At some point she even runs her algorithm on Brian. For one thing, he is always in her face, trying to help her in one way or another. For another thing, she finds herself drawn to him. Hmm, she wonders, could Brian be the ONE? Well, important matters are at hand, and finding her own happily ever after just might not be something Charlotte feels she can handle right now. 

The cover indicates that this just might be a lighthearted read. To be fair, there is a good amount of humor in this book, definitely making this quite a delightful read, but there is a level of seriousness included, as Charlotte must grieve yet a second time in her life. But, back to the humor. I so loved the scenes when Charlotte was struggling to keep the ashes out of Debbie's hands. Laugh out loud funny to be sure. The other part of the story that I couldn't help but laugh at was at how Charlotte tried to pocket ever part of her life into her analytics.

I so loved this book by Emily Belden! This is my first book by her and it will certainly not be my past.

Many thanks to Harlequin and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


EMILY BELDEN is a journalist, social media marketer, and storyteller. She is the author of the novel Hot Mess and Eightysixed: A Memoir about Unforgettable Men, Mistakes, and Meals. She lives in Chicago. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @emilybelden.

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

Review - Meg and Jo

Title:   Meg and Jo
Author:  Virginia Kantra
Genre:   Women's Fiction
Publisher:  Berkley
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   400
Date of Publication:   December 3, 2019
My Rating:   3 Stars


The timeless classic Little Women inspired this heartwarming modern tale of four sisters from New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra.

The March sisters—reliable Meg, independent Jo, stylish Amy, and shy Beth—have grown up to pursue their separate dreams. When Jo followed her ambitions to New York City, she never thought her career in journalism would come crashing down, leaving her struggling to stay afloat in a gig economy as a prep cook and secret food blogger.

Meg appears to have the life she always planned—the handsome husband, the adorable toddlers, the house in a charming subdivision. But sometimes getting everything you’ve ever wanted isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When their mother’s illness forces the sisters home to North Carolina for the holidays, they’ll rediscover what really matters.

One thing’s for sure—they’ll need the strength of family and the power of sisterhood to remake their lives and reimagine their dreams. 


The four March girls have grown up and it is modern times. That is how Meg and Jo is written for voracious readers of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Considering that the classic is my all-time favorite book which I have read several times, I was eager to get a different take on the book.

I must admit to being less than enthused. It is a "cute" story, and Meg and Jo are featured in this retelling. But, I guess I wanted the warm and inviting read every time I open the pages of Little Women.

In trying to be fair, I did try and push the classic out of my head so as to enjoy this book. When I could do that, I found it enjoyable at times. But there were just some things I couldn't disconnect about the girls I knew so well over my lifetime.

A few of my issues with the book.

Jo is a food blogger...

Laurie is not in the book...another male character named Trey is in his place...

Trey is not a nice guy...

The story does not take place in New England (my home)...

The mother is ill in this story, not Amy...

Mr. March would rather save the world than care for his own family...I will stop there.

If I hadn't read the other book several times, and the movies? Maybe I would been convinced to be that the March sisters are rather wordly.

Maybe I shouldn't read retellings.

Many thanks to Berkley and to Edelweiss for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


New York Times bestselling author Virginia Kantra is the author of thirty books of women's fiction, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. Her stories have earned numerous awards including two Romance Writers of America's RITA (R) Awards, ten RITA nominations, and two National Readers' Choice Awards.

Carolina Dreaming, the fifth book in her Dare Island series, won the 2017 RITA (R) Award for Best Contemporary Romance - Midlength and was named one of BookPage's Top Ten Romance Novels of 2016.

Her work includes the popular Children of the Sea series and, in e-book format, The MacNeills stories.

Look for Meg and Jo, a contemporary novel inspired by Little Women, in December 2019.

Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of three (mostly adult) children, Virginia lives in North Carolina. She is a firm believer in the strength of family, the importance of storytelling, and the power of love.

Her favorite thing to make for dinner? Reservations.

A popular speaker, Virginia regularly offers workshops to writers' groups and has participated in Winston Salem's Bookmarks Festival; the North Carolina Literary Festival; and Duke University's "Unsuitable" event series hosted by the Forum for Scholar and Publics. She loves talking with readers.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Review - Forever Friends

Title:   Forever Friends
Author:  Sarah Mackenzie
Series:  Cranberry Cove #1
Genre:   Women's Fiction
Publisher:  Forever
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   320
Date of Publication:  December 10, 2019 
My Rating:   4 Stars


Perfect for fans of Susan Mallery and Jill Shalvis, two mothers -- one pregnant, one sending her child to college -- form an unlikely friendship, finding love, hope, and a new start at life in this charming, laugh-out-loud read.

Single mom Renee Rhodes seems like a woman who has it all together -- perfect house, perfect kid, perfect yard. But now that her daughter is away at college, she doesn't know what to do next. Without weekly PTA meetings and after-school chauffeur duty, Renee isn't sure who she is anymore. What she is sure of is that she probably shouldn't be crushing on her new boss, who couldn't possibly be interested in a middle-aged mom....

Sadie Landry is drowning in the stay-at-home mom life. With a toddler running wild, a husband who is growing more distant by the day, and a mother-in-law who has a comment on every-little-thing, Sadie is one mommy-and-me class away from losing it. When she learns that she is pregnant again, Sadie knows that something has to change for the sake of her family -- and her sanity.

After a birthday party bake-a-thon nearly turns into a three-alarm fire, Renee comes to her neighbor Sadie's rescue with comfort, competence, and a killer pie recipe. With their unlikely friendship and a newly hatched plan to open a bakery, can Sadie and Renee finally have the lives they've always dreamed of?


This delightful book by Sarah Mackenzie is about friendship, as the title clearly shows. In this case we have a young mother and another mother whose daughter is heading to college. 

Renee Rhodes has done well as a single mom, and is proud that her daughter is away at college. However, empty nest syndrome has hit, and it has hit hard. Working at Dr. Hanlon's office has more than one perk for her. For starters, she has a crush on him, although she is certain he has never once noticed her. Another perk is that she is fond of Sadie Landry and her toddler, Lincoln, who is seeing the doctor for his well visits.

Sadie is more than overwhelmed. Not only is she the mother of an active toddler, with her husband constantly working away from home, she discovers that she is pregnant again. An aggravating factor in her already busy life is her annoying mother-in-law. Thankfully, Sadie and Renee become fast friends.

With Sadie nearly going crazy trying to prepare for a birthday party, Renee proves to be just what she needs to keep it all together. As it turns out, Renee is an excellent baker and their newfound friendship just might become a business opportunity for the both of them. 

What a wonderful story of friendship and love. There is a sweet romance in the story for Renee as well, all while Sadie's marriage is rather unsteady. I love how the women were there for each other in the story, especially with their age difference. Sarah Mackenzie's writing style was fluid and delivered an emotional tug.  I love that Forever Friends is the first book in a new series. I cannot wait to see whose story will be next. 

Many thanks to Forever for the print ARC of this book. This is my honest opinion.


Sarah Mackenzie is the author of The Read-Aloud Family: Make Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids, and the bestselling book, Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace.

On the immensely popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast, she helps families all over the world make meaningful and lasting connections with their kids through books.

She lives in the Northwest with her husband, Andrew, and their six kids, where she loves to make sure they are well-stocked in the best books she can find.

Connect with Sarah at

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Winter Blog Hop - What Platform Do You Use For Your Blog?

Bookish Blog Hops' Winter Hop Day 24: 

What Platform Do You Use For Your Blog?

It is day 24 already! Thank you Jo Lindsellfor creating these Blog Hops. I am glad to be a part of the Winter edition. As you can see, today's question is What Platform Do You Use For Your Blog?

Robin (me)

I will answer first. I am a year and a half into blogging. For me, it is Blooger. Not by choice, really, but kind of luck of the draw. I am very impulsive, and literally one day I decided I wanted to start a blog. I didn’t know anything about it at the time, nor did I know any bloggers. So, when I Googled blogging, Blogger came in as the first hit. Had it been WordPress, I likely would have selected that one. Blogger has done me good, and I even bought my own domain a while back. I often think of switching over to WordPress, but won’t do so without tons of research first. I am eager to learn more about things such as plug-ins, and from what I have seen, WordPress seems to have more in that area.

Jo Linsdell

I’ve been using Blogger since I started out and love it. I set it up with my domain which I got through Blogger is super simple to use, and with a bit of html knowledge you can do just as much with it as with any of the other platforms. There’s also the obvious advantages of it being owned by Google. I did try using Wordpress for other blogs in the past but didn’t like it as much. I’m definitely team Blogger.

Erica Robyn

I use Wordpress for my blog now. I used to use Blogger and I absolutely loved it, but I wanted a change a short time ago. It took me a little while to figure things out, but now I’m absolutely loving the Wordpress platform! It allows me to do a lot more than the Blogger platform was set up for. Unfortunately in the switch, I did lose a bunch of followers… but my numbers are starting to slowly creep back up.

Leslie Conzatti

Obviously, according to my blog address, I use the Blogger platform. I started there because I didn’t care about having all the choices and decisions to make through a separate site like Wordpress or Wix. I enjoyed the fact that it was connected to my Google account, and there for several years I had GooglePlus where I could share my blog posts for extra visibility and join communities and attract comments… That’s not the case any longer, and with the ending of GooglePlus, I had to switch the commenting back, so a lot of the GooglePlus comment threads are now lost forever… but I am slowly getting used to the new Blogger Dashboard format, and I like the way I could take a given template and use things like my own photo (of an artwork print I saw… but I’m the one who took the photo!) and different color and font choices, to make it look personal and tidy. I like the interfacing, too, how easy it is to just cut/paste when I want to share snippets of my stories--the only trouble is, there are a few formatting things that I just plain do not know how to do, so when the formatting glitches, it takes me a while to get things back to the way I want them, and even then, sometimes I don’t succeed. But I still like it too much not to change to anything else at this point! Almost 800 posts is nothing to sneeze at!


When I first started blogging, I absolutely hated WordPress. I didn’t really understand how to use it so I switched over to Blogger. I enjoyed Blogger for the time I used it, but as soon as I started getting serious about blogging, I realized it no longer fit for me. I switched back to WordPress, absorbed as many tutorials as I could, and have since fallen in love with the platform. Once I took the leap to self-hosting, I was hooked on WordPress. I’ll never go back :) 

Friday, December 20, 2019

SERIES REVIEW - Montana Strong by R.C. Ryan

Meet the wonderful Monroe family in this western romance trilogy by R.C. Ryan.

Title:   Cowboy on My Mind
Publisher:  Forever
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:   496
Date of Publication:   June 26, 2018
My Rating:   4 Stars


A heartwarming western romance about a cowboy who gets a second chance with the first love he couldn't forget in the rugged beauty of the Montana mountains. . .

Don't miss this special 2-in-1 edition that includes a bonus western romance novella by Sara Richardson!

Once a bad boy...

Ben Monroe was the ultimate bad boy-and everyone in Haller Creek knew it. But now as a sheriff's deputy, Ben spends his time breaking up bar fights rather than starting them, and staying away from trouble...until Becca Henderson comes back into town. She's just as beautiful as Ben remembers-and just as far out of his reach.

Coming home is exactly what Becca Henderson needed. A place of her own, a successful new business, and a chance to reconnect with the sexy cowboy she had a crush on in school. Ben has always blazed his own path and never let anyone stand in his way. It excites-and scares-her. But when an unexpected threat surfaces, Becca will see just how far Ben will go to protect the woman he loves-and fight for their chance at forever.


Cowboy on My Mind is the first book in the Montana Strong series by R.C. Ryan. This book (as well as books two and three of the series) is a story of family, love, trust, growth and future happiness. 

Labeled a bad boy after landing in the foster care system is a name Ben Monroe had for years. As a child, he had very little choice but to become as tough as he could get. After all, he not only had to look out for himself, but he also had to look out for his younger brothers Sam and Finn.

The boys had made a pact to run away and they eventually took refuge in the home of Mackenzie Monroe. Instead of turning them over to the authorities, Mac took them in and soon adopted them.

As an adult, Ben still wore the label as bad boy. Nonetheless, out of necessity (and trust), the sheriff in the town of Haller Creek made him a deputy. So no more fighting and rebelliousness for Ben. Instead he became a man of the law and carved a nice path for his future.

Ben's previous reputation stands in the way of him wanting to reacquaint himself with Becca Henderson, the woman from his past who once snagged his heart. Meanwhile, newly back in town, Becca wants a fresh start. Discovering the old feelings she had for Ben are just as intense as ever gives Becca hope. With their past, her father's reluctance to accept Ben, and a current threat all create roadblocks while the pair try and find the joy that comes from being together. It doesn't take Ben and Becca long to realize that they have something worth fighting for. 

This book wonderful first start to a great series. I eagerly read the next two books in the series.

Title:   The Cowboy Next Door
Publisher:  Forever
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   464
Date of Publication:   February 26, 2019
My Rating:   3.5 Stars


From New York Times bestselling author who "delivers it all with page-turning romance" (Nora Roberts) comes a story about a down-on-her-luck teacher, a carefree cowboy, and finding second chances in the most unlikely places.

After weeks on the trail, Sam Monroe is looking forward to a hot bath, a home-cooked meal, and a real bed. In that order. But he's greeted by something even better when he opens the door to his family's ranch house. Seems the new housekeeper is a gorgeous young woman who cooks like an angel and wrangles his family like a pro. If only she didn't dislike him so much...

Penny Cash is down on her luck, and the last thing she needs is a flirtation with a wild, carefree cowboy. Sure, he's funny and sexy, but they're as different as whiskey and tea. And she'll be leaving town as soon as she finds a full-time teaching position. But when trouble comes calling, Penny will find out how serious Sam can be when it comes to protecting the woman he loves...

Also includes the bonus novella Saved by the Cowboy by A.J. Pine!

Olivia Belle has always believed in fairy tales...until the moment her boyfriend dropped to one knee. When Olivia speeds into Cash Hawkins' town like a modern-day Cinderella in a ball gown and glass slippers, Cash's careful existence is thrown for a loop. Olivia could be his happily ever after... if this runaway bridesmaid doesn't run off with his heart.


When Sam Monroe gets back after weeks on the trail, the all-male household he lives in has a decidedly female presence. For years, the family has had live-in help, besides the fact that the family works well together, but now there is someone new. Living there. Sam must try and figure out this new person in his family's life, and that is Penny Cash, the new housekeeper, and an absolutely fantastic cook. 

Sam is drawn to Penny immediately. However, she does not feel the same way about him. Penny is far too serious right now. She had an opportunity that slipped through her fingers, but now working for the Monroes should give her enough time and money to figure out the next step in her life. Flirting with Sam is definitely very low on her list. 

Sam is a very good rancher, but an even better pool hustler and rancher. This turns Penny off, and that is in large part due to her own past. Coming home to Penny's scrumptious meals is a huge bonus for Sam. Now, if she could like him just a little...

This yummy western romance has a bigger spin when it comes to mystery. This took a large part of the story, thus my lowered rating. Nonetheless, The Cowboy Next Door is a great addition to the Montana Strong series, and I am happy to have been able to see Sam find love. As a matter of fact, considering the past the three Monroe brothers experienced make each book in this series a delightful read.

Many thanks to Forever for this ARC to review. This is my honest opinion.

Title:   Born to Be a Cowboy
Publisher:  Forever
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   464
Date of Publication:   November 26, 2019
My Rating:   4 Stars


This New York Times bestselling author delivers a “page-turning romance” (Nora Roberts) about a woman in jeopardy who finds protection–and love–in the arms of a small-town cowboy.

After running wild in his youth, Finn Monroe is now on the other side of the law as the local attorney. Between his practice and working at his family’s ranch, his days aren’t as exciting as they used to be–until Jessica Blair steps into his office. Gorgeous and determined, Jessie has a hunch her aunt is in trouble, and Finn is her last hope. As someone who relies on facts rather than feelings, Finn is skeptical. But it can’t hurt to do a little digging.

Jessie knows her aunt, and there is no way she would disappear on an “extended honeymoon” after hastily marrying a smooth-talking cowboy. Something is wrong, and Jessie is going to find out what. As soon as she and Finn start poking around, it becomes clear someone is willing to go to great lengths to keep them from the truth. But as the danger grows, so does their attraction. With both their lives on the line, Finn will discover just how far he’ll go to keep Jessie safe.

Includes Cowboy to the Rescue, a bonus novella by A.J. Pine!


In my favorite of the Montana Strong trilogy, Finn Monroe gets his happily ever after.

Finn's story was more sensitive to me because, although a fantastic attorney, as well as doing more than his fair share at his family's ranch, there is a piece of him that remains broken. As a child, Finn and his brothers Ben and Sam led difficult lives and had experienced abuse. Mac Monroe not only took the boys in, but gave them his name, his love and his legacy.

His most recent case is with new client Jessica Blair. Her appeal is that her aunt is in trouble and that no one believes her or will assist her. Finn is a bit skeptical himself, but is willing to at least look into things. It doesn't take very long until something happens to Jessica and it soon proves that danger is close on Jessica's heels.

Meanwhile sparks begin to fly between Finn and Jessica. At first Finn is very reluctant to act on his feelings. If not for his own reluctance to believe that he could actually find the bliss his brothers have, his professionalism is very important to him.

This final story in the trilogy has the same level of suspense that the first two books have, and I enjoyed finding out what happened to Jessica's aunt. I also loved reading the "Aha" moment when Finn and Jessica "knew". To me, when reading a romance that is key.

I think any reader picking up this book should grab the first two books in the series, Cowboy on My Mind and The Cowboy Next Door and read them all in order. I recommend all three of these books and have found them to be a great reading experience and a nice escape on a cold winter day.

Many thanks to Forever and to NetGalley for this ARC to review. This is my honest opinion.


New York Times bestselling author Ruth Ryan Langan (also writing as R.C. Ryan) has written over a hundred novels, both contemporary and historical. For a complete list, see 

Ruth has appeared on Good Morning America, and CNN, as well as dozens of radio and TV shows across the country, and has been quoted in such diverse publications as The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, and the Detroit Free Press.

Ruth is a charter member of Romance Writers of America, as well as a member of the Detroit Working Writers.