Friday, July 31, 2020

Engagement and Espionage by Penny Reid Blog Tour

Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil... and now they’re engaged!

But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most "fowl" need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear.

Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

Engagement and Espionage is the first book in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series, is a full-length cozy mystery, and is a spin-off of Penny Reid's Winston Brothers series. This novel is best read after Beard Science, Winston Brothers #3.

Book 1
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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

“Don’t stop.” She reached for my belt again, this time completely undoing it, the button of my pants, and my zipper at world-record speed.

Her phone buzzed. Then it chimed. Then it buzzed and chimed two more times. Then it rang again. Reba.

Cursing, Jenn pulled the phone from her pocket, once again her face illuminated, murderous rage in her eyes. Her finger moved to the power off button. She blinked, hesitating. Her eyes widened, her body stiffened, and she gasped.


Something about her tone, like she was horrified, and maybe a little afraid, cut through the heavy haze of lust inertia, and my hands stilled. Shaking myself, it took me a few moments to realize she was showing me the phone screen, and another few to bring the content of the text messages into focus.

Momma: Jennifer Anne Sylvester, pick up your phone. If you’re with Cletus, I need his help. Please.
Momma: I’m calling you in a second, pick up the phone. Mr. Badcock’s chickens are dead. All of them. I got here and he’s running around, deranged, yelling about his dead chickens! I called the police and they’re on their way. Please, please, please pick up the phone!

At some point, I must’ve taken the phone from Jenn and stepped away, because I glanced up upon reading the messages for the third time, finding the phone in my hand and Jenn fixing her skirt.

“This is nuts.” Her big eyes searched mine imploringly. “Who could have done this?”

I shook my head, having not yet managed to fully shift head gears—you know, from that head to the one on my neck—and my gaze dropped to the wet patch on the front of her dress just visible in the swath of light. My erection throbbed.

So we’re... not having sex?

“Why? Why would they do it? And WHO?” She snatched her phone back, her tone bewildered, distracted, and distraught. She was distraught because of the dead chickens, like any normal person would be.

I was distraught also, but my distress had nothing to do with farm animals.

“We have to go.” Jenn grabbed my hand and began walking toward the direction of the hall. Meanwhile, it took me until her hand found the door handle to realize my zipper and belt were still undone.

“This is crazy.” She paused as I zipped up, her tone halting and distracted. “Poor Mr. Badcock. And those poor chickens.” A sound of distress escaped her throat. “This is terrible.”

It was terrible.

And I was going to hell.

Because all I could think was, Talk about a cock block.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Jenn is distraught when the farmer who supplies the eggs she uses in her mother’s bakery, refuses to give her eggs. I was smiling and hooked from the very first scene. Jenn is a good, honest woman with a big heart. When Jenn finds out what has happened to the farmer’s chickens, Cletus steps in to help deal with the situation.

As more suppliers to the bakery suddenly won’t or can’t provide supplies, the mystery deepens. While all this is going on, Jenn and Cletus are dealing with relationship issues. They are engaged, but Jenn introduces Cletus as her boyfriend and he is yet to give her a ring. There were many entertaining scenes that had me grinning, including plucking chickens, a cow auction, a naked bottom, and a difficult future mother-in-law. But the emergency lasagna versus lasagna emergency was my favorite.

I loved the storyline and the fun mystery, but Cletus and Jenn are the stars of Engagement and Espionage. Quirky, lovable, and insanely clever, they are a formidable team and the kind of people you’d want to be friends with because life with them around would never be boring. I had a blast reading this story and I’m looking forward to more mysteries from this fabulous couple.

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today best-selling author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full-time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

Connect with Penny

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Hosted by

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Engagement and Espionage (Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries #1) by Penny Reid to read and review for this tour.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Spells for the Dead by Faith Hunter

Nell Ingram faces a dark craft known as death magic in the newest pulse-pounding paranormal procedural in the New York Times bestselling Soulwood series.

Nell Ingram is a rookie PsyLed agent, using the powers she can channel from deep within the earth to solve paranormal crimes. Together with her team, she's taken on the darkest magic and the direst foes. But she'll need to tap into every ounce of power she has for her newest case.

Nell is called to the Tennessee mansion of a country music star and finds a disturbing scene—dead bodies rapidly decaying before everyone's eyes. The witch on her team, T. Laine, knows this can only be one thing: death magic, a rare type of craft used to steal life forces. PsyLed needs to find this lethal killer fast. But when a paranormal-hating FBI agent tries to derail the investigation, they find themselves under attack from all sides.

Book 5
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Spells for the Dead is the fifth installment in the Soulwood series, and it absolutely cannot be read out of series order or as a standalone. Start with Blood of the Earth. But honestly, I'd suggest you start at Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock #1), because this is a sister-series to Jane Yellowrock. This would avoid any confusion, as well as organically explain the world-building in an easy to digest fashion as the reader learns along with the heroine.

Faith Hunter creates the most original heroines I've ever read, and Nell Ingram takes top honors. Nell's background, the 'cult' culture in which she was raised, her family, her widowed status, and even her home, I have never read anything so unique. Then add in the fact that her magic is quite literally communing with earth...

Nell is no longer a probie. She's a full-blown PsyLed agent. While everyone treats her with respect as a major part of their team, Nell still feels the insecurities of being the rookie. She's still finding her footing, after the conditioning of her past. Especially now that her boss's boss is looking over her shoulder.

More police procedural than the last installment, I won't go into detail over the crime PsyLed is investigating. I will admit, while I love a good who-done-it, this portion dragged the novel down. I appreciated the crime-solving, threading the pieces together, but it was slow as molasses and not holding my attention as the more personal issues did. I was more curious about Nell, more so than what PsyLed was up to.

The crime-solving is a major focus of the novel, with a minor focus on Nell's personal life. With her sisters moving into her home, the reader sees more of the impact their past has on the women. Nell is still navigating her budding relationship with Occam, which I enjoyed their interactions and the slower pace involved, befitting Nell's personality and background.

Nell is still developing her magic, learning what all she can do, flexing her abilities. I think this is the perfect vehicle to allow the reader to discover it with her, without being bombarded with too much information. Masterfully done, as the reader's curiosity spikes.

I highly recommend this novel to Urban Fantasy fans. Faith Hunter is always at the top of my recommendation list. Nell with her intriguing background and unique magic abilities, and Jane with her inner Beast, Native American ancestry, and vampire political connections. Two unique heroines, one highly recommended author.

Also Available in the Soulwood Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our Blood of the Earth post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

For reviews & more info, check out our Curse on the Land post.

Book 3
Buy Links

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For reviews & more info, check out our Flame in the Dark post.

Book 4
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our Circle of the Moon post.

New York Times Bestselling author Faith Hunter writes three series: the Jane Yellowrock series, dark urban fantasy novels featuring Jane, a Cherokee Skinwalker; the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy/post-apocalyptic series and role playing game featuring Thorn St. Croix; and the Soulwood Series featuring Nell Nicholson Ingram.

Connect with Faith

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Spells for the Dead (Soulwood #5) by Faith Hunter to read and review.

Begin Again by Jennifer Probst Blog Tour

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Probst comes a new story in her Stay series.

Chloe Lake is finally living her dream. As the daughter of the Governor, she’s consistently in the spotlight, and after being dubbed the Most Eligible Bachelorette of NYC, both her career and personal life has exploded. Fortunately, her work as an advocate for animal welfare requires constant publicity and funding, so she embraces her role and plays for the camera—anything for the sake of her beloved rescues.

But when a big case is on the line, she’s faced with the one obstacle she never counted on: the boy who broke her heart is back, and in order to gain justice, they need to work together.

Chloe swears she can handle it until old feelings resurface, and she’s faced with a heartbreaking choice.

Will this time end differently—or are they destined to be only each other’s first love—instead of forever?

Owen Salt fell hard for Chloe when he was a screwed-up kid in college, and spent the next years changing himself into the man his grandfather believed he was capable of. But when his career led him across the country, he knew he needed to leave the woman he loved behind. He’s never forgotten her, but as the new darling of the press, now, she’s way out of his league. When work brings him back to fight for justice by her side, he swears he can handle it.

But he’s never really gotten over his first love—and he wants one more opportunity to prove he’s a man who’s worthy.

Can Owen convince the woman who holds his heart to take a second chance on forever—or is it too late for them both?

**For fans of Jennifer Probst’s Stay series, Begin Again is the fifth installment in that series.**

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you'll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Book 3.6
Buy Links

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He cut the engine. Leaned in. Her hand drifted up to hesitantly touch his face, smooth and stubble free, his square cut jaw straight, full lips, and cut cheekbones straight from a superhero comic. “You’re very handsome,” she whispered.

He chuckled. “Thank you. But you are a work of art.” He stroked her hair. “And it’s officially our fifth date. Would you invite me up?”

Tension stiffened her muscles. She wasn’t ready to sleep with him yet. There was something sacred about inviting a man into her bed. When she was young and reckless, she’d made a bunch of bad choices, sleeping with bad boys to prove nothing could hurt her, and it only made a bigger mess in her head. Now she accepted her need to go slow and refused to apologize for it. “I don’t think tonight is a good idea,” she said.

He nodded, taking the rejection with his normal ease. “Got it. Then I’ll just have to show you how you make me feel right here.”

He lowered his head and kissed her.

Chloe responded immediately, allowing her mouth to soften under his, her hands gripping his broad shoulders. He smelled of expensive cologne, a musky, ocean scent that should have driven her crazy. He knew what he was doing, expertly applying the perfect amount of pressure, slowly sliding his tongue with subtle precision, allowing her to warm up. Her body responded like a fine-tuned machine and she sank into the kiss, deliberately shutting her mind down to enjoy the moment.

When he finally lifted his head, satisfaction gleamed in his eyes. “You are delicious,” he muttered. “I can’t wait to see you again.”

“Me, too.” She smiled and grabbed her purse. “I better go. Thanks for dinner.”

“Thanks for saying yes.”

Chloe climbed out of the car and walked to her apartment building. Nodding to Art, the doorman, she took the elevator up to the eighth floor and entered her sacred space. Kicking off her heels, she went straight to her living room, got comfortable, and took out her phone.

He answered on the second ring. “Sweetheart! It’s so good to hear from you. What’s up?”

The sound of her father’s voice was everything good in the world, and she leaned her head back on the sofa, closing her eyes. Funny, for so many years, she hid everything from him, refusing to share any of her feelings. Now she looked forward to their talks, and though she had many close friends who’d be there anytime, she preferred going straight to her father. “Hi, Dad. Am I interrupting?”

“There’s nothing I could be doing where I’d consider you an interruption. You sound funny.”

She laughed but it turned into a half sob. “I had a date. With Drew Dinkle.”

A whistle cut over the phone. “That’s great! I’ve always liked Drew. He’s got his priorities straight—family values, hard work, and charity. If I had a choice to set you up with anyone, I’d pick Drew. How’d it go?”

“Great. He took me to Felice’s.”

“Our favorite place. See, he’s winning already. How long have you been seeing him?”

“This was our fifth date. Dad, can I ask you something?”


“Is it better to be ruled by your heart or your head?”

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This installment in the Stay series is very welcome – for fans it will be a perfect opportunity to catch up with all the gang, and to find Chloe and Owen all grown up! You could definitely read this as a lovely introduction to the books too, and I dare you not to be tempted to go back and find out about the adventures that are mentioning in passing in this story.

Chloe has found her calling, and is working hard for animal rescue. She is seeing someone, but there really is no great buzz, and anyway, she is far too busy. Then Owen Salt walks into the office, the new lawyer helping on a big animal abuse case. All her thoughts get thrown to the wind, but she will not allow herself to be hurt by him again. He broke her once, she can't let him do it again.

Owen walked away for only one reason, to become worthy for Chloe. He is single-minded in his plans, and will do all he can, without being pushy, to make Chloe believe him. I loved his tenacity, his honesty, and how he was prepared to make himself vulnerable to prove to her that he is serious. Some of his revelations really do shock her, and give her a better understanding of his thinking.

Though a novella, there is plenty of depth, lots of fabulous characters – and whilst names (thanks to Disney) have always been a feature of this series, Chloe's suitor being called Drew Dinkle just had me in stitches, lol!

I highly recommend this to you. Enjoy!

Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She holds a masters in English Literature and lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Her family keeps her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean. Her passions include horse racing, Scrabble, rescue dogs, Italian food, and wine—not necessarily in that order.

She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, spent 26 weeks on the New York Times. Her work has been translated in over a dozen countries, sold over a million copies, and was dubbed a “romance phenom” by Kirkus Reviews. She is also a proud three-time RITA finalist.

Connect with Jennifer

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Begin Again (Stay #3.6) by Jennifer Probst to read and review for this tour.

High Heat by Annabeth Albert

Annabeth Albert’s Hotshots series continues—the emotions and intensity of Chicago Fire with the raw, natural elements of Man vs. Wild.

Smoke jumping is Garrick Nelson’s life. Nothing, not severe injuries nor the brutal physical therapy that follows, is going to stop him from getting back with his crew. But when a lost dog shows up on his front porch, he can’t turn her away, and he can’t take care of her on his own. Thankfully, help comes in the form of his new sexy, dog-loving neighbor. As they work together, trying to re-home their little princess, Garrick can’t resist his growing attraction for the other man, even though he knows this guy isn’t the staying type.

Rain Fisher doesn’t take anything too seriously. He dances through life, one adventure at a time, never settling in one place for too long. When his hot, conveniently buff, neighbor shows up on his doorstep, dog in tow, Rain’s determined to not just save the adorable puppy, but her reluctant owner as well. He never expects their flirtation might tempt him into stay put once and for all...

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Book 2
Buy Links

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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press—Harlequin

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

High Heat is the second book in the Hotshots series. I feel that it could be read as a standalone without much issue.

Smoke jumping changed Garrick Nelson's life. His energy is all put toward jumping again. He's made remarkable strides but it's still hard for him to ask for help or depend on anyone else. When a strange dog shows up on his porch, he knows he has to find the owner knowing he won't be able to care for the pupper on his own. When he stops at the neighbor's house, hoping she can help, what he isn't expecting is the hot, dog-loving grandson that answers the door.

With the help of Rain, Garrick learns more about himself and taking care of a sweet pupper than he ever thought possible.

I loved everything about this read. Garrick was angry about giving up being a smoke jumper but something about Rain made him realize that there was something more important. The chemistry and Rain's free side made this such a delicious read! I can't wait to see what comes next for this series!!

3.5 stars of sweet heat

This is the second book in the series, and I would recommend that you read them in order, as the characters do flow through – and you get to see how Garrick was injured. That said, this would stand alone too.

Garrick being injured was an important moment in Burn Zone, and as he hadn't been painted in the warmest light, it is interesting to see him as he recovers, and how he deals with losing his playboy reputation and his much loved career. We join him already back at home, more than six months after the accident, and whilst he mainly uses a wheelchair, he can use crutches for a short distance. He is going to high intensity physio, and still believes he will return to smoke jumping. Sadly, I think it was clear that was incredibly unlikely from the outset, and I kind of felt pity for him, rather than hope.

His life definitely improves when he finds an injured dog, and that he has a new neighbour for the summer, as Shirley has her grandson, Rain, staying. They immediately fall into a very comfortable friendship/relationship looking after the dog and spending time together. I felt that the issues caused by Garrick's injury were dealt with both sympathetically and with good humour, and Rain's choice of underwear certainly raised the stakes.

There are enough fires, uniforms, as well as lacy undergarments and Cookie the dog to give a reader a very pleasurable read. I look forward to seeing who comes next, and seeing how this romance develops.

3.5 stars

This is the story of Garrick, an adrenaline junkie smoke jumper coming to terms with life changing injuries. And it’s the story of his neighbour’s hippie grandson, who might just change Garrick’s life even further.

At the start of this book, Garrick is frustrated and pretty miserable. His recovery is taking longer than he expected and he hates his reliance on others. He can’t picture a future without smoke jumping. This story is as much about Garrick’s personal journey as it is a romance. Rain explodes into Garrick’s life with an explosion colour – and a rather large dog. If Garrick’s life needs Rain’s infusion of joy, Rain needs someone to belong to and a reason to stay.

This is a slow, tender romance. It’s slow enough that I kept getting distracted and putting it down – something that doesn’t usually happen with this author’s books. The first book in this series focused more on smoke jumping action while this book only provides a few firefighting scenes. With Garrick recovering from a spinal injury, the sex isn’t completely conventional but there are some steamy scenes and a little bit of kink.

There are lots of things I really enjoyed about this book but sections of it did drag and I had to push myself to finish it. It might just have been me in the wrong frame of mind, but I usually devour Annabeth Albert’s books and I didn’t quite connect with this one.

High Heat is the second installment in the Hotshots series, and can easily be read as a standalone. However, if the reader wishes to know how Garrick's accident occurred, it happened on the pages of Burn Zone. There is also a cameo featuring Linc and Jacob.

High Heat had it all, everything to trap me into a book. Lost puppers with hurt paws. A yummy age-gap between a pansexual injured firefighter and a shimmering young neighbor, who just so happens to be intrigued by going into firefighting himself.

Garrick has a positive outlook on his injuries, because he won't accept anything less. Living alone in his own home, after recuperating with his father, he's struggling to do things by himself but has the determination to get things done. Garrick's biggest issue is that he's a workaholic with nothing to do, while also too proud to bother his friends and coworkers for help.

Rain is staying with his grandmother, a person who was told needed his help but won't accept it. He's living life on his own terms, on the cusp of making major decisions on what to do next. A natural caregiver, sweet sunshiny personality, he needs someone to help.

Then there is Cookie, the sweetest pup on the planet, who brings Garrick and Rain together.

Through helping one another, both around the house and as a trainer, Garrick lets his walls down enough to let Rain in, age-gap part of the hesitation. They find that their new jobs complement one another, ending with a scary scenario that was both emotional and heart-pounding for the reader.

High Heat had it all, everything that should have made it one helluva page-turner, with light and fluffy emotions and obvious lust, but I just couldn't connect. I wanted to love it, but I felt from the beginning that I was already at the ending. Too fast, too soon. I don't know. Not forced, necessarily. But too easy, too lighthearted, too fluffy. I didn't feel as if they had to do anything to be together but be together, and I need a little bit more angst, as if the characters have to earn it.

My favorite parts of the novel featured Cookie and Garrick's dad, those are the scenes when I actually felt something.

Recommended to fans of the author, especially those who enjoy light and fluffy.

Avid Reader☆☆☆
M/M Romance

Garrick is at home after suffering a pretty severe injury during his job. He isn't used to having so much time for himself and he finds that he's impatient with his physical therapy. And while he likes spending the time with this dad, he also can't wait to get back out on the line. When an injured dog finds its way to Garrick, he knows that he might be in over his head. Cookie is the dog that wins his heart, despite him not wanting the connection.

Rain is staying with his grandma next door to the hunky firefighter. When he sees that Garrick is in need of help due to his injury, Rain volunteers. Rain is fun, sweet, and slightly shy. He sees Garrick before his injury and likes what he sees.

These two have a slow burn relationship. There is an age gap and while they do want a relationship, Garrick also doesn't want to hold Rain back. Rain wants to help his grandma, Garrick, and everyone else, but is also needing to make some pretty big life decisions for himself too.

It was a sweet story, but I just was very disconnected from the characters. I think it was more surface romance than a true, deep romance from my point and I wished it had more depth.

Also Available in the Hotshots Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press—Harlequin

For reviews & more info, check out our Burn Zone post.

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

Connect with Annabeth

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Annabeth's Angels Facebook Fan Group

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of High Heat (Hotshots #2) by Annabeth Albert to read and review

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Searching for Love by Melissa Foster Release Blitz

Zev Braden and Carly Dylan have known each other their whole lives. Their close-knit families were sure they were destined to marry—until a devastating tragedy struck, breaking the two lovers apart. Over the next decade Zev, a nomadic treasure hunter, rarely returned to his hometown, and Carly became a chocolatier and built a whole new life across the country. When a chance encounter brings them back into each other’s lives, can they find the true love that once existed, or will shattered dreams and broken hearts prevail? Find out in Searching for Love, a deliciously sexy, funny, and emotional second-chance romance.

Discover the magic of New York Times bestseller Melissa Foster's writing and see why millions of readers have fallen in love with the fiercely loyal and sassily sexy characters in the Love in Bloom big-family romance collection.

Book 6
Buy Links

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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

When I see a Melissa Foster book come across the list of reviews to pick from, I don't have to read the blurb, I know I want to read it. She is an automatic yes for me. I love her writing style and her way of telling a story is one of my favorites. She will pull you in and keep you there until the end and you have fallen totally in love with the story and want more.

Zev and Carly have loved each other since second grade. They have always gone on adventures together. Made plans to find a sunken ship and to live their life together. But when things change and Zev leaves, both are heartbroken.

Now, ten years later, and they both are at his brother's wedding. He is surprised to see her, but she knew he would be there. The spark between them is still there and just as strong. Carly doesn't want to talk to him, but they need to clear the air between them. When they finally talk, they find out that they both want the same thing, which is to be together. Their love is still just as strong, if not stronger than it was.

Can they make a relationship work long distance? Will they be able to see each other as they thought? Can Carly continue running the chocolate shop and not go to Zev?

I loved everything about this story and want to know where I can find a Zev of my own. Melissa Foster is an author that if you haven't read anything from her, you need to. You will not be disappointed and will have a favorite author to add to your reading list.

This is the sixth of this particular series – but all of Melissa Foster's books are interlinked, which I absolutely love! It is such fun meeting up with different parts of families and seeing how distant relatives meet up, make new friends, and catching up with previous couples too.

Here we start by enjoying Beau and Char's wedding, in the grounds of the newly completed inn. And amongst the guests are two people who have not seen each other in a very long time, who are somehow going to have to get through a week of being in the same town. Zev and Carly were their first everything, but a decade ago, after their friend Tory died, he left, believing it to be best he was far away.

Carly did not do well in his absence, but has pulled her life together, and is finally in a safe place, in business as a chocolatier and settled. She may wonder what Zev is up to, but everyone knows that he is not to be mentioned... so him being at the wedding really is a shock. But not an entirely unwelcome one – he is clearly surprised too, but also in a good way.

As these two childhood sweethearts and soulmates get their second chance at reconnecting, we get to enjoy and yet worry along with them. I loved the pirate ship storyline and the adventures deep diving, but possibly the chocolate elements were even more to my taste! They definitely have chemistry in abundance, as many places can attest, but they have a lot of things to sort out in order to make it stick this time.

I loved it all, and the twist at the very end was just the perfect way to round off the story. Roll on the next story in this lovely series.

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance and new adult romance with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Melissa’s emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented–perfect beach reads for contemporary romance lovers who enjoy reading about wealthy heroes and smart, sassy heroines.

Connect with Melissa

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Searching for Love (The Bradens & Montgomerys #6) by Melissa Foster to read and review for this tour.

Bound by Shadows by Kathy Lyons

Lyons gets it right (Kirkus) in this sexy shifter romance about an alpha bear who meets his match, perfect for fans of New York Times bestselling authors Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, and Christine Feehan.

Between singlehandedly running her bakery and raising her teenaged nephew, Becca Weitz thought she had a decent grip on "normal." Then her nephew vanishes, and life as she's known it changes forever. Local legends are true: bear shifters exist... and her nephew is part of their clan. As is Carl Carman, the sexy, larger-than-life man who has sworn to find her nephew – and the other young shifters who've gone missing.

As the leader of his clan, Carl is surrounded by enemies. He's learned the hard way that keeping a firm leash on his inner beast is key to survival, though his feelings for Becca test his legendary control. Then danger stalks too close, and Carl realizes he must unleash the raging, primal force within to protect everything he holds dear. But can Becca trust his grizzly side with her life – and her heart?

Previously published as The Bear Who Loved Me

Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/F Shiter romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

Becca is a baker, mom, protector, and woman. She has been raising her nephew and knows that despite him being a teenager, he would never make her worry by just disappearing. Becca is going out of her mind when her nephew can't be found, but what makes her even more suspicious is that Carl comes out of the blue to let her know that he's also looking for him. She's somewhat confused but knows that Carl is also someone that her nephew and a few of the other kids in town talk about and respect.

Carl is the alpha to the local bear shifters. While he has some disgruntled members, he also knows that he doesn’t want to rule like his uncle – unyielding and cruel. When a few new bear shifters go missing, he and his team will set out to find out why and where they've been taken.

Becca is not sure why she's so attracted or drawn to Carl and the same goes for Carl. He has never thought he'd find a mate in a human. But when push comes to shove, he'll fight to the death to make sure that Becca is safe. This story has mystery, romance, funny banter, and a slow burn attraction with explosive results.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

This is the story of an alpha grizzly shifter who falls for a human woman as they search for her missing nephew.

The two main characters are likeable in this story but I didn’t find either terribly engaging or relatable. Carl is a new alpha, gentler and more thoughtful than his pack’s previous leaders. Becca is a human baker brought into Carl’s world through her shifter nephew. For me, Becca is a little too mild, a little too domestic, and a little too accommodating. She’s a bit bland. Similarly, Carl doesn’t ever develop much beyond his identity as alpha shifter trying to keep his pack together.

This story relies heavily on some of the more problematic shifter tropes. Becca is kidnapped by Carl and some of their early interactions involve dubious consent and behaviour from Carl that would be considered gaslighting in most situations. The possessive alpha who can’t behave rationally around his fated mate is an old and very tired storyline and sadly, it is only the first of many tired shifter storylines in this book. The investigation into Theo’s disappearance is the most exciting part of this book but the main focus is on Becca and Carl’s relationship.

Honestly, shifter romances have been done so many times now that anything new needs to not only be very good – it also needs to feel fresh and add something new to the genre. This book pulls together several strands of preexisting shifter lore and only the grizzly thing seems at all fresh. And even then, Nalini Singh was writing brilliant grizzly shifter romances a couple of years ago.

Kathy Lyons is the wild, adventurous half of USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee. A lover of all things fantastical, Kathy spent much of her childhood in Narnia, Middle Earth, Amber, and Earthsea, just to name a few. There is nothing she adores more than turning an ordinary day into something magical, which is what happens all the time in her books. Winner of several industry awards including the Prism-Best of the Best, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and Fresh Fiction’s Steamiest Read, Kathy has published over 50 romance novels, and she’s just getting started.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Bound by Shadows (Grizzlies Gone Wild #1) by Kathy Lyons to read and review.