Tuesday, November 21, 2023

BLOG TOUR & REVIEW - Grumpy Little Christmas by Marika Ray

Title: Grumpy Little Christmas
Author: Marika Ray
Genre: Small Town Romantic Comedy
Release Date: November 14, 2023
Cover Design: Shanoff Designs

My country music career is going downhill fast, and my very public breakup isn't helping. All I want is to hide away at a cozy ski lodge this Christmas, avoid anything festive, and figure out what to do with my life. Is that so much to ask?

Aksel Lund is a modern-day Viking who should be gracing magazine covers with his smoldery frown, not running the Havenkirk Ski Lodge like a tyrant. Unbeknownst to me, this map-dot town in Idaho doesn’t have a spa or know how to be chill about Christmas. Aksel’s eight-year-old daughter drags me to every single Snowmass celebration because I don’t have the heart to tell her no.

Her grinch of a father though? He has no heart. When he’s not criticizing my music, or saving me from hurtling down the slopes, or arguing with me over my excessive luggage—it’s only five suitcases, calm down—he’s dodging my questions about why he’s a single dad and who keeps calling about his debts.

I may be a celebrity— which basically makes me a scrooge in his eyes—but I know a thing or two about hard times. And it looks like Havenkirk will be sold to some rich developer the minute the tinsel comes down. If only Mr. Tall-Dark-and-Brooding would let me help save the lodge.

And if only Aksel didn’t make my heart twist painfully in my chest and leave me panting whenever he turns that glower on me. If only I truly loved the season and could pull a Christmas miracle out of my guitar.

Turns out a miracle is what I need to get Aksel out of my heart, too.

Loved this from start to finish, because who doesn't love a man who presents as broody and intense, but he's a cinnamon roll hero for that one special person who's captured his heart. I liked the twist on how both Aksel and Morgana seem to have the same sentiment when it comes to the Christmas holiday. I got a kick out of their interactions and banter with each other, and all that sexual tension right under the surface. Now, I'm not gonna like, I wasn't exactly a fan of Morgana, but I can't really figure out why she irked me the way she did, and while I feel like she needed to ramp up her apology tour after all the shenanigans that happened, I still like these two as a couple.

Marika Ray is a USA Today bestselling author of steamy and sweet RomComs, spending her time behind a computer crafting stories, walking any beach she can find, and making healthy food for her kids and husband whether they like it or not. Prior to writing novels, Marika held various jobs in the finance industry, with private start-up companies, and then in health & fitness. Cats may have nine lives, but Marika believes everyone should have nine careers to keep things spicy. All her books come with a money-back guarantee that you’ll smile at least once with every book.

More information can be found at www.marikaray.com


Monday, November 20, 2023

RELEASE BLITZ & REVIEW - Flirting with the Scrooge by Gia Stevens

Title: Flirting with the Scrooge
Series: Harbor Highlands Series
Author: Gia Stevens
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Tropes: Holiday Romance, Grumpy x Sunshine, Return to Hometown, Rock Star
Release Date: November 20, 2023
Cover Design: HEA Studios

‘Twas a month before Christmas, and all through the town,
Everyone was ready to celebrate, except my hot and grumpy new neighbor.

Christmas is my favorite time of year with the festive parties and holiday cheer. But having Connor Tyler move in next door is as much fun as searching for a burned-out bulb in a string of lights.

His rugged good looks and guitar can make anyone swoon. That doesn’t change the fact that he slammed the door in my face when I welcomed him with a tray of homemade cookies.

But I won’t let his bah-humbug attitude damper my holiday spirit. This year, more than ever, I need to deck the halls and revel in being jolly. As I ramp up my holiday cheer, Connor spends more and more time casting lingering glances toward my… mistletoe. When a blizzard hits, a gesture of hospitality leads to exchanging more than presents.

As Christmas draws nearer, I chip away at his icy facade only to discover a painful truth. There’s an expiration date on his time next door.

And I’m certain I don’t have enough boxes of tinsel to convince him to stay.

This was my first Gia Stevens story and I got such a kick out of this story I purchased the other stories in this series. Loved the interactions and banter between Connor and Tatum: a lot of sunshine and rainbows happiness balanced with broody grumpiness with a moderate amount of swoon interspersed throughout. I was so engrossed in this story I pretty much read it in one sitting (to the detriment of my work projects).

“Maybe you could teach me something?”

“Yeah? You want to play the guitar?” 

She nods. 

“What do you want to learn?”

She purses her lips, the corner of her mouth tips up to the side as she decides on her answer. “‘Love You Anyway’ by Luke Combs. I love that song.”


She bobs her head up and down. 

“I don’t do country.”

“Oh.” Her face falls.

“I got a song I can teach you.” I pass her my guitar and she holds it in her lap. Rising to my feet, I move to kneel in front of her. “Wrap your hand around the neck like this.” I move her fingers so they’re over the strings. “And then rest your arms here and let it hang down. Keep it loose.” I move her other arm over the guitar body. “This is the C chord.” I grip her hand softly in mine and a jolt of electricity courses through my body. Her breath hitches and I know she felt it too. Our gazes meet for the briefest of seconds before I glance away. I move her finger to the correct string and then I hand her a pick from my pocket. “Strum this string while pressing down with your other hand.” She does exactly what I say. “Now this is G.” Again, I move her finger to the correct string, and she strums it. “Now try them together.”

Her tongue peeks out as she remembers where to place her fingers and strums the two chords. We continue this way for a few more chords. Sometimes she makes a mistake but starts over.

When I introduce a new chord, she tries to play it all back but messes up. “I can’t do this. My fingers aren’t that coordinated.”

“Here, let me try something. Scoot forward.” She does as I say, and I move to sit behind her. My front is pressed against her back. For a moment her body stiffens, but then she relaxes into me. I lean past her shoulder, her sweet vanilla scent invading my senses. What I wouldn’t do to nuzzle into her neck, savoring her delicious smell, and press my lips to her soft flesh. Quickly, I shake the thought from my head. Reaching around the neck, I set my fingers on the strings. “Put your fingers on mine. Then you can get a feel for the movement.” Her delicate fingers graze mine, barely touching me as if she’s afraid because she’ll feel the same current of electricity as I do.

I play the intro chords and then lead into the first verse. Her fingers brush against mine as I move over the strings. With my mouth next to her ear, I croon the lyrics to “Patience” by Guns N Roses. When I reach the end of the chorus, she releases a small giggle.

She tilts her head to face me. “‘Patience’. How fitting.”

I flash her a small smile but continue playing. Her gaze searches mine, then falls to my lips. Her hands fall to her sides as she inches her face closer to mine. A river of lust and desire flows between us. Her lips part and I stop singing when she sinks her teeth into the corner of her bottom lip. I’m itching to feel her soft bottom lip between my teeth. Then her lips crash to mine.

Gia Stevens resides in the up north of Minnesota. She lives for the warm, sunny days of summer and dreads the bitter cold of winter. A romantic comedy junkie at heart, she knew she wanted her own stories to encompass those same feelings.

When she’s not busy writing your next book boyfriend, Gia can be found playing in her vegetable garden, watching reruns of The OC and Gossip Girl, or curled up with a good book.

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