“Not” TBR Challenge Review: A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer

*Editor’s Note: I don’t normally do this but this was submitted by Aidee on July 21, 2019, and it was supposed to be a TBR Challenge Review. Obviously I have no idea which month/topic now and … *crawls under a rock* so – my apologies to Aidee, and Wendy the amazing organizer of the annual TBR Challenge, and other participants. [It also seems there are two blurbs/back cover copies, and they have sufficiently different information, so I’m adding both.]

A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer
Fantasy romance released by Ace on July 5, 2005

A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer book coverOn an alternate Earth, where the population is ninety percent female and a man is sold by his sisters to marry all the women in a family, Jerin Whistler is coming of age. His mothers are respected landed gentry, his grandfather a kidnapped prince, and his grandmothers common line soldiers blackballed for treason, trained by thieves, re-enlisted as spies, and knighted for acts of valor. Jerin wants to marry well, and his sisters want a husband bought by his brother’s price.
~*~*~*~
In a world where male children are rare, a man is a valuable commodity—to be sold to the highest bidder…

It isn’t easy being the oldest boy in a house run by women—especially for Jerin Whistler. The grand-matriarchs of his clan are descended from soldiers, spies, and thieves. That’s partly what’s kept their family alive in the wilderness. But it also means Jerin’s doomed to marry the girls next door—a fate he’s convinced is worse than death. But Jerin gets in even worse trouble when, in the process of a daring rescue, he falls in love with a royal princess who’s as high above his station as it’s possible to be.

Ren knows that Jerin is too far below her class to be an appropriate match for her and her royal sisters. But then she hears rumors of a long-held Whistler family secret—one that might provide a way for them to finally be together. Unfortunately, she still has four sisters to convince. And that’s before Jerin even comes to the capital—where simmering political tensions will threaten not just their love, but all their lives…

I’ve read this book more than once, but didn’t read it when it was first published in 2005. I wasn’t into romance at the time, and while this book has a healthy amount of court intrigue and is set in an alternate universe, a step sideways from ours, it focuses on the romantic relationship between Jerin and Ren, and to a lesser extent, Ren’s sisters. As the cover copy makes clear, this is a world where men have multiple wives, but it is a matriarchal society, not a patriarchal one. The cover image, I’m told, is misleading. I mostly enjoyed this book, though upon thinking about it for the review, I noticed somethings that left me feeling slightly uneasy. Continue reading

Valentine’s Guests: Bobbi Romans Interviews Carolyn Hector

Hi friends! With time being fluid here in ALBTALBS land, and mixed up dates on my part, I’m glad this all worked out and we’re welcoming the lovely Bobbi Romans who is interviewing her delightful friend Carolyn Hector. I do want to say first – Cocoa Dreams, Carolyn’s newest book just came out this week! Congratulations on your newest release, Carolyn! Anyway, you gotta love a pair who just take care of everything! So without further ado…

Bobbi Romans Interviews Carolyn Hector for Valentine’s Day

Her Mistletoe Bachelor by Carolyn Hector book coverWhoop-Whoop, its Bobbi Romans here interviewing the fabulous Carolyn Hector Hall, AKA my little cuddle buddy, about all kinds of juicy tidbits both Valentines Inspired as well as just nosey darn questions.

Lets jump right in.

Bobbi: Hey cuddle buddy!
Carolyn: I miss you! I can’t wait until we can sleep in the same bed together! And before we start… Happy Birthday weekend to you! 

Bobbi: So for y’all reading this and us for the first time, twice a year (pre-covid) Carolyn, and I, along with some other awesome romance authors got together for a lake house retreat. At these retreats we do get a lot writing done, but we also have fun. One year Carolyn brought us all our own barbies. And let’s just say when we woke up in the morning, someone one (thou shalt not be named) posed the Barbies in some pretty wicked poses. 
Carolyn: What happens at the lake house, stays at the lake house….. or it ends up in a novel or on Facebook.  Continue reading

Guest Jeannie Lin: Hacking my own Brain and Writing for my Id

Hi friends! I’m very excited to welcome Jeannie Lin back to ALBTALBS! Also also! Did you know Jeannie just had a new book out yesterday?! And that it’s the Lunar New Year tomorrow? I mean, all the stars [or you know >.> celestial body singular?] aligned for this post! Congratulations on the release of Tale of the Drunken Sword and welcome!

Hacking my own Brain and Writing for my Id

The Hidden Moon by Jeannie Lin book coverMy family has a bunch of different superstitions around Lunar New Year, the most pervasive one being that whatever you do on the first day of the year will be the nature of the mojo you get for the rest of the year. We eat a bunch, spend time with family, get showered with money and act cheerful in order to set ourselves up for posterity and wealth and happiness for the new year.

I’m not superstitious, but I am in my head a lot which can sort of amount to the same thing. I play mind games with myself all the time because I know my brain is super analytical, but I also know my brain likes novelty and whimsy so it CAN be convinced to do things even though it knows it’s being tricked.  

So, I thought it would be a good way to jump start a productive writing year by starting out the year with a book release. It’s something I think my brain can be convinced of. 

I’d just quit the stressful day job and Lunar New Year was less than month away, so if I was going to make something happen, I’d better make it happen quick.  Continue reading

10TH BLOGIVERSARY WINNERS!!

Hi friends! I am very sorry for not posting this sooner. There has been… well it’s a lot. And then the site ~broke. I’m literally communicating with tech support as I write this so … fingers crossed. I also checked spam to make sure no comments/entries were accidentally caught there.

ANYWAY! I know what you’re here for! The WINNERS!!! And here we go! (Shout out to randomizer too for picking the winners.)

We’ve Hit Double Digits! AKA ALBTALBS Turns 10! Winner(s): Ainsley! … and Shannon because she actually emailed me to tell me she’d like to enter too. So WHY NOT DO BOTH ENTRIES?!

Blogiversary Guest Jody Wallace: Cats Are As Perfect As Books Winner: M!

Blogiversary Guest Ainsley Wynter: Sliding Into 2021 and Leaving the Ghosts of 2020 Behind Winner(s): EVERYONE! Seriously! The very kind and generous Ainsley is willing to gift this book to everyone who commented so congratulations to dholcomb1, Aliquis, bn100, and Sandra! The four of you are to email [x] about claiming your prize!

Blogiversary Version Guest Author & A Giveaway: Christie Kelley Winner: flchen1

Blogiversary Version Guest Author & A Giveaway: Shannon McKenna Winner: dholcomb1 & bn100

Blogiversary Version Guest Author & A Giveaway: Nicole Flockton Winner: bn100

Blogiversary Guest Renee Dahlia on 10 Years and Reflection Winner: Sandra

Blogiversary Version Guest Author & A Giveaway: Jennifer Bernard Winner: Aliquis

Release Day Blogiversary Edition Exclusive Excerpt: The Golden Gryphon and the Bear Prince by Jeffe Kennedy Winner: Elizabeth KW

A Blogiversary Version Guest Author & A Giveaway: Amanda McCabe Winner: dholcomb1

Blogiversary Guest: Kali Anthony On the Little Things – *this giveaway of a signed book is open through February 28th so go comment to win! <3

Blockbuster Blogiversary Giveaways from Sabrina Jeffries! Winners: Prize Pack I: Ashley Mason Prize Pack II: flchen1  Bonus Audiobook: Beth

Blogiversary Guest: Janice Maynard! Winner:  Elizabeth KW

To everyone else, how do you get your delightful prize?! Well, contact me via the form on this site, or leave a comment right here on this post telling me you’d like me to email you/figure things out. Your deadline is February 28th. So you have until the end of the month – email me in March and you’re cut off. 😜

Thanks again all for celebrating ten years with us. And especially to all the very generous authors who furnished these prizes and their time. Congratulations to the winners too!

10th Blogiversary Wrap Up: Last Call to Enter ALL THE GIVEAWAYS

Hi friends! All the giveaways close today unless otherwise stated. What’s up for grabs you might ask? Well let me tell you!

Unless otherwise noted, all giveaways are open internationally! We want you to win, so please comment! Join in the fun!

When So For Real Was Too Real: On Reviewing, with a Shout Out (and Apology) to Rebekah Weatherspoon et al

So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon book coverI’ve been thinking about writing this post since October 2016. Rebekah Weatherspoon sent me an ARC of So For Real on October 16, 2016. I read it shortly thereafter. I’d think everyone in the US remembers we were gearing up for a major election … and … welp. So there was a lot going on, and I remember reading So For Real – I had loved So Sweet. I believe I wrote a “First Look” (a review) of that book and for So Right at Heroes & Heartbreakers. (Remember that site?) I’m even blurbed in So Right because I loved it so much! But I remember reading So For Real and – it’s definitely real. Kayla Bradbury née Davis goes through a lot. From what I recall, she’s struggling with newly married life, with friends, with her new business, with life. I meant to review it, but was putting it off because I wanted to love it more than I did … and I just so strongly associate it with the election cycle. I haven’t gone back to re-read it for that very reason. (Unfortunately low key the whole series…) I’m definitely a “mood reader,” which is also why I comfort re-read recent favorites, and sometimes avoid “old favorites” because I’m scared they won’t stand the test of time. Or my bad mood.

I have a highly developed sense of guilt. Not only do I feel bad for not reviewing So For Real (and others) since 2016 … I still feel guilty for agreeing to review a book in like 2005 or 2006 and not getting around to it. (I think I started reviewing books online in ~02-03?) There was a lot of school … and life kicking my ass. Not just the election but a massive cycle of doctors (when I talk about “surgeon #12” sometimes it’s because I literally had to consult with more than 12 orthopedic surgeons across the country. I’m up to at least 14 now…) Then there were the major surgeries… I was thinking the other day that I was pretty much drugged and out of it for a good chunk of the dumpster administration. (Silver linings?) Anesthesia brain is very real too. Unfortunately, that’s also just part of it. Let’s not get into the rest though. Continue reading

Call for “Smithsonian [Heritage]” Month Guest Posts

Hi friends! i don’t know how many of you have stuck around with us since the beginning, but in 2012 or 2013 I got the idea to celebrate all the Smithsonian Heritage Months – and everything launched in 2014. A lot has changed since then, and the frequency of posts have as well. I have to say I cringe a bit at the word “heritage” now. Is that weird? Is that just me? :X However, that’s what they’re called so …

Anyway, what are the Smithsonian Heritage Months? (There used to be a calendar on the Smithsonian site that I can’t for the life of me find right now. I’m certain I’ve posted it in the past but this week I’ve noticed a lot of broken image links. 😐 Although poking around the Smithsonian site I’m seeing a lot of broken links and missing pages too, so that actually makes me feel better/less of a failure. Anyway.)

February: African American History Month aka Black History Month
March: Women’s History Month
May: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month aka APAHM
June: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month aka Pride Month
September 15-October 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month aka Latinx Heritage Month
November: American Indian Heritage Month aka Native American and First Nations Heritage Month

To explain the Smithsonian Heritage Month posts… At its inception, I only asked for people who fell under the umbrella of whatever month it was. (E.g. only someone who was APIA should write an APAHM post.) However, international friends asked about posting, and also to be honest, people weren’t volunteering and I didn’t want to keep asking the same people over and over. So I then opened it to ANYONE and EVERYONE.  You’re all welcome to write posts for ANY months. International friends, regardless of race/background. It just has to be relevant to the month (unless you fall under the umbrella month). So if you’re white I welcome you – and in fact challenge you – to step up to the place and research a person, an event, celebrate someone, whatever, and write a guest post for either Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Pride, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Latinx Heritage Month, or Native American/First Nations Heritage Month.

If you’re uncertain about writing a post, you could also volunteer to write a guest review of a book by an author who would fit in any of those months. An easy way to participate!

I’m hoping to line up more posts – but  also to maybe feature previous posts which you might have missed. Through the years if you’ve followed the Smithsonian Heritage Months you might’ve noticed really interesting and different tones to posts and months too. While some might’ve slipped through – tagging the same way years apart isn’t always the easiest – you can see a lot of the old(er) posts under the  Smithsonian Heritage Month tag. Seriously – there’s a lot of excellent content there. From some fun informative posts, some “I’m tired” posts … to ones where people are raw and honest and really bare their souls.

If you’re interested in writing a post or have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, or contact me via the form on the site. Thanks <3

A “Crowdsourced” List of Black Romance Authors

Hi friends! It’s February, and I’m trying to bring back the Heritage Month posts … we’ll see how successful (or not) it is – but I wanted to start out with the basics (which I plan to put in a different post). This is more a “me” post than “the blog” post in a way, so I’m leaving it under my account rather than the administrator one. 

Anyway – there are apparently some people who think/say there are “no” romances out there by own voices/Black authors and … *stares.*
For myself, I wanted to make the commitment to not just read more diversely, but to read more Black romance authors. Especially after our Black Lives Matters post I wanted to put my money where my mouth was.

I’m just one person though, and I miss a lot – so I decided to crowd source on social media, and I wrote down every author suggested. The italicized names are ones I added to the list. There are of course many other lists compiled so I wanted to highlight them as well/will add them as I find them in the depths of my terrifying inbox. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Crave by Evelyn Sola

Crave (Clark Family Book 1) by Evelyn Sola
Contemporary romance published by Evelyn Sola on March 2, 2020

Sandra
Before THAT night, the over the top party and the cake incident, I spent Saturday nights with girlfriends, lamenting my life over margaritas.
I wasn’t ready for Jacob Clark. He was sin and dark edges, wrapped in regret. He was my Kryptonite. His words oozed over me like warm honey. His dark eyes pricked my soul, and his touch….those fingers set my skin on fire.
Of course he was too good to be true. And before I could wipe the icing off my greedy lips, I was walking away.
So, why was he invading her dreams?

Jacob
She was the remedy to everything. Until my family, my past, provoked me.
I made one little scene, and Sandra walked away without a word, despite our mind-blowing connection.
When I finally barged in on her life again, she told me she didn’t want me. I told her in her pretty face she did. She more than wanted me.
Remember the ache? When I’m with her, it goes away.
If she wants a chase, I’ll give her one.
Who knows? When I catch her, I might never let go.

[So … late is better than never, right? 😅] The way I think about this book is: what if you met your perfect match on the worst night of their life? While it wasn’t the worst night of Jace’s life … he’s reacting to it still. I actually listened to the audiobook – it’s narrated by Mari and Troy Duran. I’ve listened to other books Mari narrated before, but Troy was new to me, and *fans self* his voice, y’all. Anyway. This book! I’m glad I stuck with it because at first glance, the hero is not very “hero material.” … But we quickly find out why – and it’s such a great, sexy contemporary. I’m also a major sucker for a smitten hero. Another bonus is – the dogs! Zeus (a bull mastiff!) and Lady (a poodle). Low key the detail and attention to the dogs is what kept me initially reading/listening when I might’ve DNF’d otherwise. So many authors write a dog into their books and just never mention them again. Not the case here. And also, once we got into the actual story with Jake and Sandy, I was hooked. Continue reading

Blogiversary Guest: Janice Maynard!

Hi friends! I’m so thrilled to welcome back Janice Maynard on the last day of January! We’re just doing things all over the place and offering giveaways galore here at ALBTALBS! 😀 It’s been ten years! We do what we want! 😜 Anyway Janice was kind enough to write a post and offer a prize, so read on!  <3

Happy Blogiversary to Limecello! I’m honored to be here today celebrating such a fun milestone!

As I was debating what to share with you, it occurred to me that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. It will look different this year, of course. (My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary in a restaurant parking lot eating carry-out.)

Whether you’ll be observing Gal-entine’s Day, or maybe you and your significant other are lifting a glass, because you’ve managed not to strangle each other during quarantine, this year’s events will be unlike any others.

Instead of reporting on a new release, I’d like to tell you about an older book that takes place in exactly this time of year. As you probably know, publishers “buy” the rights to publish books for a certain period of time. Eventually, those rights revert to the authors who can then re-publish the books. Continue reading