recommendations

What I Read: July to September 2018

What a three months of reading!

I mentioned the other day that I’ve started a brand-new podcast with my sister Justine, who is the woman behind the blog I Should Read That. I’ve been reading a lot for project, PLUS I also handed in the first draft of a new book to editor. That means I’ve been binging all of the books I haven’t been able to read while working.

Here’s a look at what I’ve read (and loved) this last quarter:

If you want to follow along with me as I read my way to the end of the year, you can find me on Goodreads. And please, if you’ve read any of these books or have a recommendation for me, leave a comment!

What I Read: April to June 2018

I've been keeping a reading list off and on since I was in college...let's just say many years ago. I will always regret that I haven't been consistent with it because I love having a record to look back on and remember those hidden gems that I loved but might have forgotten.

When I look back at this past three months of reading, I'll have plenty to remember fondly. Click on any of the titles below to find out more about these recommended reads. Follow me on Goodreads or leave a comment below to let me know what you think I should read next.

Hollywood's Underestimated Woman

Ever since I was a little girl, I've loved the glamor and drama of old Hollywood. It probably started with To Have and Have Not. I watched it when I was around 12. There was something about Lauren Bacall, all smolder and vulnerability, with her beautiful hair and deep voice. I wanted some of her grown-up sophistication for myself, and so I snapped up as many of her movies as I could find. The Big Sleep, Key Largo, Dark Passage, How to Marry a Millionaire.

From there I discovered Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious, Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night, Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews in Laura. (One of my favorite movies.) The list goes on and on and on.

As I got older, I began to learn more about the other side of Hollywood that is often sordid and sometimes tragic. I've listened to most of You Must Remember This, an excellent podcast about the film industry, Los Angeles (where I grew up), and the people who created the movie myths we still believe today. However, I only knew bits and pieces of one of its most extraordinary women.

Hedy Lamarr was widely recognized as one of the most beautiful women in the world during her heyday in the 1930s and 1940s. An Austrian actress, she was scandalous and alluring. She was also an almost unrecognized genius, but the documentary Bombshell is trying to change that.

Lamarr was an inventor with an inquisitive mind. During World War II, she came up with a technique called frequency hopping that would allow the navy to deploy torpedos that couldn't be jammed by German submarines. Her invention, largely neglected at the time, has become the basis for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and military technology being used today.

Her fascinating, sometimes deeply sad story, is told through interviews with Hedy, her family, and others. You get a picture of a woman who was pigeon-holed into being just a beautiful face because, to paraphrase one interviewee, you don't get to be Hedy Lamarr and be smart. She was difficult and complex and funny and so many things, and now the movie-going audience who loved her films is getting a chance to see a more complete version of her.

What I Read: January to March 2018

It's always been easy to tell what sort of mood I've been in based on the types of books that are on my completed list. Lots of romances? High stress time.

Plenty of mystery? I've probably been writing to meet a deadline and have been looking for something completely different.

Loads of history? Guess who's doing research.

January, February, and March (or Q1 for those of your who are business minded) was a mix of all of those things. I read a few standouts across several genres, and they're definitely worth a shoutout. Keep reading for those recommendations, and be sure to follow me on Goodreads and BookBub for more!

If you like your history glamorous...

The Riviera Set, by Mary S. Lovell

If you like intrigue on the high seas...

Dangerous Crossing, by Rachel Rhys

If you like gritty Western romance...

Cowgirl, Unexpectedly, by Vicki Tharp

If you like dark thrillers...

The Lying Game, by Ruth Ware

If you like your female detectives witty...

A Curious Beginning, by Deanna Raybourn

If you want to be swept up in a YA saga...

Hero at the Fall, by Alwyn Hamilton

12 Days of Christmas Reads: Covent Garden in the Snow, by Jules Wake

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and on the last day we're celebrating a rom com set back stage at one of London's theaters!

♥ If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

Covent Garden in the Snow, by Jules Wake

Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!

But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it's not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…

Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it's a match made in hell.

And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancé isn’t at all what he seems, it's Marcus who's there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.

If you've been missing chick lit a la Bridget Jones's Diary, this book has it in spades. The behind-the-scenes detail about working as a makeup artist in the theater is wonderful, and the descriptions of the area around Covent Garden at Christmas time ring true, even if Tilly seems to like the crowds more than I do. The hero's also chick lit romance catnip. There's something very comforting about this book.

And that wraps up the 12 Days of Christmas Reads! I hope you found some new-to-you books and fell a little more in love with literature this holiday season! If you missed any of the days, don't forget that you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: Solstice Miracle, by Alexis Daria

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day eleven is a short story that shows you what happens when two people who've sworn off love fall for each other on the longest night of the year!

If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

Solstice Miracle, by Alexis Daria 

After inheriting her grandmother’s house in suburban Connecticut, Rina Minkin revives her witchy improv character to help pay for necessary home repairs. When Miguel Alvarez shows up at her front door with two kids in need of a Winter Solstice miracle, even cynical Rina can’t turn them away. And the longer she spends with them, the more she wants them to stick around.

It's only fitting that Solstice Miracle be today's selection because today marks the winter solstice! So, again, I believe in full disclosure and Alexis Daris has been one of my favorite people in the New York City romance writing scene since I met her a few years back. She's had a fantastic publishing year with the debut of her Dance Off series, and I'm thrilled to be able to recommend a wintery romance read from her today! In it you'll get a part-time librarian/part-time witch heroine, a good uncle hero, two cute kids, a kiss, and a little bit of magic.

Check back tomorrow for one last Christmas reading recommendation as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads comes to a close. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: Named of the Dragon, by Susanna Kearsley

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day ten takes us to Wales for a romantic women's fiction novel by one of my favorite writers.

If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

Named of the Dragon, by Susanna Kearsley

The charm of spending the Christmas holidays in South Wales, with its crumbling castles and ancient myths, seems the perfect distraction from the nightmares that have plagued literary agent Lyn Ravenshaw since the loss of her baby five years ago.

Instead, she meets an emotionally fragile young widow who's convinced that Lyn's recurring dreams have drawn her to Castle Farm for an important purpose--and she's running out of time.

With the help of a reclusive, brooding playwright, Lyn begins to untangle the mystery and is pulled into a world of Celtic legends, dangerous prophecies, and a child destined for greatness.

I'm an unashamed fangirl for Susanna Kearsley's The Splendour Falls, so I was very happy when my friend Lindsay Emory mentioned that Named of the Dragon takes place over the holidays, meaning I could include it in the 12 Days of Christmas Reads. To me, Kearsley's books are the reading equivalent of a warm down comforter that I can wrap myself in and spend an entire indulgent day enjoying. As with the other books of her I've read, there's an element of supernatural (this time in the form of dreams) that connects the heroine with the past. Although not a romance, it's romantic with a grumpy but really a good man hero (my favorite) and a secondary romance threading throughout the story that's spiked with bits of Welsh and Arthurian legend.

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with a miracle at the solstice served up in one delightful romance. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: A Christmas Journey, by Anne Perry

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day nine takes us on a train journey to the Highlands.

If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

A Christmas Journey, by Anne Perry

It’s Christmas and the Berkshire countryside lies wrapped in winter chill. But the well-born guests who have gathered at Applecross for a delicious weekend of innocent intrigue and passionate romance are warmed by roaring fires and candlelight, holly and mistletoe, good wine and gorgeously wrapped gifts. It’s scarcely the setting for misfortune, and no one–not even that clever young aristocrat and budding sleuth Vespasia Cumming-Gould–anticipates the tragedy that is to darken this light-hearted holiday house party. But soon one young woman lies dead, a suicide, and another is ostracized, held partly responsible for the shocking turn of events.

To expiate her guilt, Gwendolen Kilmuir sets out for the Scottish Highlands, hoping to explain to the dead girl’s mother the circumstances surrounding the sorrowful act–and to bring her back to England for the funeral. Gwendolen’s sole companion on this nightmarish journey is Vespasia. As Vespasia learns more about the victim and the ugly forces that shaped her desperate deed, she understands the heartbreaking truth of the tragedy.

This book was recommended to me by my mother years ago. You see, she collects these Anne Perry Christmas books, and for the last few years they've been one of my gifts to her and she usually reads them on Christmas Day. Short but still satisfying, these books have lovely period details , in particular the train ride. If you find yourself enjoying them, you should give the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Mysteries or the William Pitt Mysteries a go.

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with a trip to the Welsh coast for a touch of magic. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day eight is all about whisky, Scotland, and a slow burn romance!

If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

The Christmas Secret, by Karen Swan

Alex Hyde is the leaders’ leader. An executive coach par excellence, she’s the person the Great and the Good turn to when the pressure gets too much; she can change the way they think, how they operate, she can turn around the very fortunes of their companies.

Her waiting list is months’ long, but even she can’t turn down the unorthodox but highly lucrative crisis call that comes her way a few weeks before Christmas, regarding the troublesome – and troubled – head of an esteemed whisky company in Scotland: Lochlan Farquhar, CEO of Kentallen Distilleries, is a maverick, an enigma and a renegade, and Alex needs to get inside his head before he brings the company to its knees.

It should be business as usual. She can do this in her sleep. Only, when she gets to the remote island of Islay, with the winter snows falling, Alex finds herself out of her comfort zone. For once, she’s not in control - Lochlan, though darkly charismatic, is unpredictable and destructive, her usual methods gaining no traction with him - and with Christmas and her deadline fast approaching, she must win his trust and find a way to close on this deal.

But as she pulls ever closer to him, boundaries become blurred, loyalties loosen and Alex finds herself faced with an impossible choice as she realizes nothing and no-one is as they first seemed.

First of all, look at that cover. I'm a sucker for a good women's fiction cover, and this one jumped out at me when I was wandering around my local Waterstones. This book ticked a lot of boxes for me:

  • It's set in Scotland
  • It had a historical story being told in the background
  • There's a grumpy distillery owner hero
  • The romance burns slow until it finally combusts about two thirds through the book

However, I think it really shines when you meet Lochlan's friends from university who bring Alex into their little group. It's a good one to read while cozied up under a blanket.

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with another historical mystery. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: Resisting Santa, by Lindsay Emory

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day seven we're back on Mistletoe Key and smashing the patriarchy! If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

Resisting Santa, by Lindsay Emory

Mistletoe Key takes Christmas traditions very seriously. So when Eliza Hart advocates for a gender-inclusive Santa late one night on public radio, she inadvertently sets off an historic island-wide scandal. After years away, she’s just returned to the island but once again she’s persona non grata, fighting the patriarchy one Santa suit at a time.

Tiki bar owner Shep Butler had a childhood crush on Eliza and while she’s stirring up trouble in town, he can’t help the feelings she’s stirring up in him. He’s always been fascinated with her eyes and her freckles, but now her grown-up feminist opinions are a package deal and maybe even a deal breaker.

On an island where Christmas is celebrated 365 days a year, can Eliza and Shep find room at the inn for different opinions – and love – before politics and tradition tear them apart?

Full disclosure on this one, Lindsay Emory is one of my favorite people. She's also a member of my writing group, The HBICs, and she hired me to proofread Resisting Santa. However, you know I wouldn't recommend a book I didn't love, and I'm going to wholeheartedly recommend this one! Eliza is a sharp, determined heroine who just wants to make her community better, even if not everyone wants to see that happen. Shep's the bar owner who loves his hometown of Mistletoe Key, and maybe loves Eliza too. The big romantic gesture at the end of this book is excellent and makes me so happy and hopeful whenever I think of it!

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on we're heading to a whisky distillery in Scotland. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: At the Christmas Wedding, by Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe, and Maya Rodale

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day six gets you three Regency romances for the price of one!

♥ If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

At the Christmas Wedding, by Caroline Linden, Katharine Ashe, and Maya Rodale

Snowed in at a castle full of handsome lords, three young ladies are about to have the holiday of their lives…

"Map of a Lady’s Heart" by Caroline Linden

The road to happily-ever-after… With Kingstag Castle full of guests and the snow falling, Viola Cavendish has her hands full making sure the Christmas house party runs smoothly. The unexpected arrival of the Earl of Winterton and his nephew Lord Newton upends everything. Not only is Lord Newton flirting with the young ladies Viola is supposed to chaperone, Lord Winterton himself makes her pulse race. Always takes some twists and turns Wesley Morane, Earl of Winterton, has come to Kingstag Castle in search of a valuable atlas, and he refuses to be deterred by the snow, the house party, his nephew, or even the most ridiculous play ever staged. But before long the only map he wants is one that shows him the way to Viola’s heart…

"Hot Rogue on a Cold Night" by Maya Rodale

Jilted by a duke: Lady Serena Cavendish was born and bred to be a duchess. Too bad, then, that the Duke of Frye mysteriously and suddenly ended their betrothal.  Seduced by a Rogue: Greyson Jones, an agent of the crown, is the only one who thinks being jilted has made Serena more alluring. When he lucks into an invitation to a Christmas house party at Kingstag Castle to cheer her up—and perhaps find her a husband—he seizes the opportunity to win her heart before they might be parted forever.  On the way to the altar: Their journey to happily ever after involves a ridiculous play, a lovesick swan, a mysterious gift and, of course, a kiss.

"Snowy Night with a Duke" by Katharine Ashe

The last time Lady Charlotte Ascot bumped into the Duke of Frye, she climbed a tree to avoid him. Sometimes it’s simply easier to run away than to face her feelings for him — overwhelmingly passionate feelings that no modest lady should have! Now, on her way to Kingstag Castle to celebrate the holidays with friends, Charlotte is trapped by a snowstorm at a tiny country inn with the duke of her steamiest dreams.  But Frye has a secret of his own, and Christmas is the ideal time to finally tell the woman he’s always wanted the whole unvarnished truth. Better yet, he’ll show her...

For fans of interlocking romance anthologies where the side characters from one story pop up in the others, this book will be a delight. It's another snowbound romance set (mostly) at a big country house over the holiday. There's a jilted bride, a mad-cap play, and lots of clandestine kissing. There are also two "we've known each other for years and have feelings but couldn't admit it until now" romances for fans of that particular trope. And just a quick note, it's definitely worth reading these stories in order.

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with a trip back to Mistletoe Key and a bit of patriarchy smashing. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: Silent Night, by Deanna Raybourn

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day five is all about intrigue and theft at a Victorian Christmas!

♥ If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

Silent Night, by Deanna Raybourn 

[I'm tweaking parts of this synopsis because *series spoilers*]

Lady Julia's Christmas will not have the Christmas she'd planned when she finds herself called to her father's ancestral estate, Bellmont Abbey, with her eccentric family and a menagerie of animals in tow. Nevertheless, Julia looks forward to a lively family gathering—but amongst the celebrations, a mystery stirs. There are missing jewels, new faces at the Abbey, and a prowling ghost that brings back unwelcome memories from a previous holiday—one that turned deadly. Is a new culprit recreating crimes of the past? And will detective Nicolas Brisbane let Julia investigate—?

So this recommendation comes with a caveat: if you haven't read the Lady Julia Grey Mysteries, stop what you're doing and go fix that. I'll wait.

I love these books. Not only are the books rich with period detail, readers also get the chance to watch Lady Julia grow into a more assertive, confident version of herself while butting heads with Nicholas Brisbane, which is delightful. While the second in the series is set in the run-up to Christmas, this is book 5.5 and the more obviously Christmasy of the two. You can certainly read it out of order but that would be spoiling the long arc romance written into these books, and that is worth waiting for.

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with a snowbound Regency romance anthology. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: Blue Christmas, by Alexandra Haughton

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day four is all about a hot hockey player and Christmas cheer! ♥ Click here for yesterday's recommended read.

Blue Christmas, by Alexandra Haughton

Kelly Griffin grew up on Mistletoe Key and is so over it—the fake snow, the jangly jingle bells, the forced cheer. Ugh, so over it. All she wants for Christmas is to never have to think about Christmas again. But leaving the only home she’s ever known and starting over where no one knows her name is an impossible wish. 

Enter the one man who knows all about what Kelly has lost—Hunter “Blue” Bowen. A hockey superstar trying to keep a low profile while recovering from his career-threatening injuries, Blue starts to fall in love with the kitschy charm of the island…and its grinchiest resident. 

Kelly’s wish could come true…if Mr. Hockey God would just buy out her half of the property. But leaving the island also means leaving Blue alone under the mistletoe, and that’s something she’s not sure she can do. 

So full disclosure (because I believe in stuff like that), not only is Alexandra Haughton a very good friend, one of my beta readers, and a beloved member of my writing group, The HBICs, she also hired me as the proofreader of this book. HOWEVER, I can tell you that proofreaders don't always love what they read but I love this book. This book is part of the Mistletoe Key and it features a fabulously dressed, no-nonsense heroine named Kelly and an injury rehabbing hockey player named Blue. Kelly and Blue's relationship is complicated, and it becomes even more complicated when he moves into the pool house of the home they jointly share. He is such a good dude that he just sort of makes me melt.

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with a historical mystery set at Christmas.If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: A Perfect Holiday Fling, by Farrah Rochon

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day three is a freebie from romance author Farrah Rochon!

If you missed yesterday's Christmas reading recommendation, click here.

A Perfect Holiday Fling, by Farrah Rochon

It’s no mystery why veterinarian Callie Webber is having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. When the residents of her small hometown aren’t pitying her because of her ex-husband’s very public departure, they’re attempting to hook her up with a man…any man. Fed up with being everyone’s favorite charity case, Callie considers closing her animal clinic and moving to the big city. But, before she goes, she decides to give herself a Christmas treat to remember: a romantic holiday fling. And who better to have a fling with than the gorgeous newcomer who is turning heads around Maplesville? 

When injured Navy pilot Stefan Sutherland reluctantly rescues a gutter cat for the sake of his five-year-old nephew, he never imagined it would lead to him discovering Maplesville’s most fascinating attraction…its smoking hot vet. Getting involved with a woman was the last thing Stefan anticipated when he agreed to care for his nephew during his Army nurse sister’s deployment, but if he’s going to spend the holidays in this sleepy Southern town, why not make the most of it with the perfect holiday fling.

So here's the deal. This book has a naval pilot hero who is taking care of his nephew while his sister is deployed. The relationship he has with his nephew is freakin' adorable, starting with the moment he helps save, and that's pretty much me sold. I also really liked Callie, the heroine, and the entire Maplesville community. And even better, it's a great *free* intro to the series. I also highly recommend Rochon's Bayou Dreams series. (Seriously, if you decide you like her books, she's written a lot so you're in luck.)

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with a hot hockey player who bakes the heroine of his book sugar cookies. Need I say more? If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: Sweetest Regret, by Meredith Duran

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day two is all about second chance historical romance! ♥ Click here for yesterday's recommended read.

Sweetest Regret, by Meredith Duran

At a house party in the countryside, the joyful spirit of the Christmas season threatens to sweep Georgiana Trent under the mistletoe—and back into the arms of the dashing rogue who broke her heart two years ago. Little does she know that Lucas Godwin has no intention of leaving until he has reclaimed her as his own.

Whether it's writing them or reading them, I love a second chance romance. There's something about knowing that each half of a couple is trying their best to resist the pesky pull of the past that makes the moment when they finally give in all the better. I read this wonderful historical romance about a year ago as part of the What Happens Under the Mistletoe anthology and just loved it. I think historical readers will absolutely love watching Georgiana and Lucas fall back in love all over again.

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with a romance between naval pilot at a crossroads and a vet trying to forget. There's also a super cute kid at the center of it all.If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

12 Days of Christmas Reads: Hot Winter's Night, by Lia Riley

Welcome to a huge celebration of Christmas-themed books! Every November I impulse buy a ton of Christmas-themed books (mostly romances) and dump them onto my Kindle. I then spend the next two months wallowing in wonderful, heart-warming, sometimes sexy reads. This year I'm sharing twelve of my favorites, and day one kicks off with a snowbound contemporary romance! "Hot Winter’s Night" in Snowbound at Christmas, by Lia Riley

While Brightwater is being covered in snow, Goldie Flint is stuck in her flower shop. She never expected her hero to be Kit Kane, the former love of her life. Kit knows that what he had with Goldie isn’t just in the past and with the help of a little bet, an ornery grandmother, and a lot of snow, he’s ready to show her that what he really wants for Christmas is a second chance.

This novella fits into Lia Riley's Brightwater series, which I loved. This is a sexy, second chance small town romance that's funny and heart-swooning at the same time. Along with being a second chance and Christmas romance, this book also ticks a couple other boxes for me. It's set in California, my home state that holds a very special place in my heart, and it's a snowbound romance. I love romances where the hero and heroine are stuck with each other and forced to get over themselves and admit they love each other. It. is. my. catnip. I hope you'll enjoy it too!

Check back tomorrow for more Christmas reading recommendations as the 12 Days of Christmas Reads rolls on with a historical romance rec. If you want to see all of the 12 Days of Christmas Reads recommendations in one place, you can check out this handy landing page. And be sure to download my London-set Christmas novella, Kiss Me at Midnight.

Fall TBR Roundup

As some readers know, I moved to London last May after nearly nine years of living in New York City. While I was excited for new adventures, one thing I was decidedly not excited about was saying goodbye to most of my books. Romance readers—and really any hardcore readers—know that it's really only a matter of time before our books take over our lives. I was definitely at max capacity for books in my old apartment on the Upper East Side. (One of my best friends once told me, "I worry that I won't hear from you for a few days and I'll come over to find you've been crushed to death because one of your book piles has fallen on top of you.") I wound up giving a ton of books to a used bookstore run out of my local library's basement so at least they were going to a good cause.

Unfortunately all of that moving and writing—I handed in The Taste of Temptation to my editor seven days after arriving in the U.K.—I lost track of what I was reading. I've been tracking my reading in some form or another since I was in college, but for whatever reason I just wasn't writing books down as I whipped through them this summer.

I restarted this fall using a pretty notebook, and oh boy can I see a comfort reading trend, especially when I was on deadline and working extra hard to get manuscripts to my editor this summer. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Shell Seekers, by Rosamund Pilcher

This was my first Rosamund Pilcher novel, recommended to me by my mother. It's a sweeping story about several generations of a family. At the center of it is a painting that's a mother's legacy but which most of her children don't appreciate until they realize its value. Throughout the 600+ pages, readers realize that there's far more to the mother's life than she's ever told her children, starting with her childhood in Cornwall and winding through World War II.

 

 

 

The Cazalet Chronicles, by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Another British World War II saga, this book focuses around an upper middle class family as the threat of war and then the reality of it change relationships and fortunes. I actually read the first four books and thought I was done with the series, but then I found out there's a fifth called All Change, written some years after the first four books. That's right up there on my TBR.

 

 

 

Silent in the Grave, by Deanna Raybourn

I'm talked a lot about my love of mystery on this site. The Lady Julia Grey mysteries tick a lot of boxes for me: amateur woman detective, Victorian setting, hero who is just outside the bounds of propriety and has secrets in his past. I've actually read the first three, but Silent in the Grave is the place to start.

 

 

 

The Silent Companions, by Laura Purcell

This was my Halloween read this year. I always get the urge to read something slightly spooky (although not too scary because authors need beauty sleep too). A Gothic novel seemed like just the thing, and this one was about as Gothic as they come. I don't want to say too much for fear of giving away the twisting, turning, always-leaving-you-doubting plot, but it's worth giving this one a shot if you love historical reads. (US readers: this book is available for preorder now and comes out on March 6.)

October Wrap Up

I'm always fooled by October. Every year I convince myself that September marks the end of summer vacations and now, with kids back in school and people keeping the heads down until the December holidays, things will be calmer. Instead, October feels like a rush of making up for lazy summer days, reconnecting with friends, and recommitting to work. Still, it's my favorite time of the year. When the leaves crisp and wood smoke randomly wafts through the air, I start to crave hearty meals and spend days in the kitchen with the oven going, pulling out loaves of bread. I start to wrap myself in wool scarves and wear tall riding boots even if it's perhaps a little too cold. It's also my favorite reading season, when there's nothing more satisfying than sinking into a good book with a steaming cup of strong tea close at hand.

Here's a look at what I read, watched, listened to, and cooked this past month.

What I Read in October

What I Watched in October

What I Listened to in October

What I Cooked & Baked in October

Paul Hollywood's White Cob Loaf

Nigel Slater's Really Good Spaghetti Bolognese

Want To Read More Sports Romance? Here's Where to Start

If you've had a chance to read CHANGING THE PLAY, first of all thank you! It was a really fun book to write, and seeing it in readers' hands is making me itch to get back to writing sports romance after spending the last nine months in the world of 19th-century Scotland for my upcoming Matchmaker of Edinburgh series. (As amazing as writing that series has been, I love variety in my writing as much as my reading!) If you have read CHANGING THE PLAY, would you do me a big favor and consider leaving a review on Goodreads, Amazon, iBooks, or any other ebook retailer? It just takes a couple minutes and it helps who might like my book find it!

Okay, now to the real reason we're all here: sports romances. These books are full of sexy athlete heroes, high drama on and off the field, and heroines who can stand up to some serious alpha man. The folks over at XOXO After Dark rounded up a list of their favorite sports romance and as well as naming CHANGING THE PLAY they name-checked a bunch of other great looking romances that I'm planning on trying. One of those is DIRTY BOXING by Harper St. George and Tara Wyatt, and today is actually their release day so be sure to check out their book and wish them a happy book birthday!

The best way to keep updated about my Julia Blake books is to join my reader group on Facebook. It's a spot for readers to hang out and get the latest updates, bonus and behind-the-scenes content, and giveaways. Come hang out and say hi!