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Monthly Wrap-Up: March

During our Monthly Wrap-Up, we’ll take a look at what has happened around here in the last month. That’ll include what’s happened in my life, what we’ve read, any other posts we may have had, our most popular Instagram posts, and books that I’ve added to my ever-growing TBR.

*We linked this post to the March Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up Link-Up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction*

 

Jen’s Life:

✮ Our youngest turned 8 this last month.  We took the day off from school (the advantages of homeschooling yay!), and celebrated the day with family, played games, had In N Out takeout and enjoyed the weather outside. 
✮ I’ve been doing a step challenge on Garmin, with my sister-in-law, since last month.  I decided to cut myself slack on the days I work out on the elliptical or the recumbent bike and watch The Vampire Diaries (soooooo good!!), so if I don’t hit 10k steps on those days then I’m fine with it.  But like last night, I was 2k steps short EEKS!  So there I am walking in place, next to our bed while reading a book, and my husband was staring at me like I’m crazy lol!
✮ Some of my favorite recipes I made this last month were Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina, Hamburger Noodle Casserole, Slower Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken & Triple Chocolate Cake.

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What We Read:

5 Stars:
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black
Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman
Heartscape (Vino & Veritas #2) by Garrett Leigh

4.5 Stars:
The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer

4 Stars:
The Marquess and I (Forever Yours #1) by Stacy Reid
Headstrong (Vino & Veritas #3) by Eden Finley

 

 

 

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Our Favorite Books of the Month:
 

Arielle’s Choice – Heartscape (Vino & Veritas #2) by Garrett Leigh
Heartscape resonated deep within my bones.  Just thinking about how obvious their love for each other was just makes my heart so happy *cries* lol. Such a great book!

 

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Jen’s Choice – The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly BlackWallflower by Cookie O’Gorman
I’m sorry but I can NOT  pick a favorite between a fantasy and a contemporary lol.  It is impossible!  I LOVED both of these books with my whole heart and soul!  If you’re a fan of YA fantasy or enemies to lovers, then definitely pickup The Cruel Prince!  And if you’re a fan of young adult romance or fake dating then you gotta add Wallflower to your tbr!

 
 
 
 

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Instagram:

We thought it would be fun to share our most popular posts for March. And they were….

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Star-Crossed Book Blog (@starcrossedbookblog)

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Star-Crossed Book Blog (@starcrossedbookblog)

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Star-Crossed Book Blog (@starcrossedbookblog)

 

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Books Added To Jen’s Goodreads TBR This Month:
 
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So this was our March….did you read any of the same books that we did? Or share the same favorite book as us? If not, then what was your favorite book? Or have you read any of the books I just added to my TBR?

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful March. And cheers to April being fabulous for all of us!

EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY: When a Cowboy Loves a Woman (Creedence Horse Rescue #2) by Jennie Marts

 

I just finished this book and it stole my heart!  Love, love, love!  My review will be going up in the next day or so.  Until then, you’ll definitely want to check out what this book is about below and enter a fabulous giveaway.  Enjoy♥!

 

When a Cowboy Loves a Woman
Jennie Marts
(Creedence Horse Rescue #2)
Published by: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: March 30th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

They both know the pain of loss and how to protect their hearts…but fate has a way of stepping in…

When a kitchen fire forces young widow Elle Brooks to move in with her friend Bryn and her motley collection of rescue animals, she doesn’t foresee ending up in the muscled arms of handsome cowboy and veterinarian Brody Tate. But she can’t deny the feelings that being close to Brody are stirring in her. Spending time with the hunky cowboy and his adorable young daughter as they rehabilitate rescued horses reminds Elle of all she lost in a car crash years ago.

As a widower himself, Brody is devoted to being a good dad for his spirited daughter. He hasn’t let romance even enter his head. But now he’s met Elle. Spending time with her is shaking up the calm he’s worked so hard to achieve, and he can’t seem to get this woman off his mind.

Elle and Brody have both lost people they loved, but their mutual attraction and growing feelings are too strong to ignore. The hope of a future together is a beautiful possibility, but can these two wounded souls take a chance on each other and find the courage to love again?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

 

Excerpt:

Everything hurts, thought Elle Brooks as she sank lower in the bathtub. Her back and shoulders ached from carrying bales of hay and brushing the horses that morning at the Heaven Can Wait Horse Rescue, where she volunteered. Although she preferred the physical labor over the headache she got from spending the afternoon with her financial advisor, going over the trust and through her finances. Between his company and his considerable life insurance policy, her beloved Ryan had left her with a substantial amount of money. But she’d give it all away for one more day with him.

She pushed a bubbly pile of suds across the spacious garden bathtub as the final strains of one of her favorite Pink songs faded in her ears. Usually the pop star’s music could energize her, but tonight she felt more like a sinking stone than any kind of rock star. With a sigh, she pushed the drain release with her toe and pulled the earbuds from her ears.

That’s when she heard the sirens.

Hair raised on the nape of her neck, and a chill that had nothing to do with the cooling bathwater raced up her spine. She slammed her eyes shut against the onslaught of memories. It had been over a year since Ryan died, but the images of the ambulance’s throbbing lights and the mournful sounds of the sirens were as vivid as if it had happened the day before.

She caught the first whiff of smoke as she heard the fire trucks pull up in front of her house. Water sloshed over the side as she stumbled to get out of the tub. Grabbing a towel, she scarcely had time to run it over her body before she heard the slam of her front door and raised voices.

Reaching for her pajamas, she pulled on the cotton shorts and wrenched the tank top over her head.

Move, her brain screamed. Get out.

The fabric clung to her damp skin as she snatched up her short robe and raced out of the bathroom. From the landing, she could see a flurry of men in yellow coats dragging a gray hose across the Italian marble of her foyer toward her kitchen.

She choked on the acrid smoke filling the air. There were no blazing flames, but the smoke scorched her throat, and she blinked against the sting of it to her eyes.

An older fireman caught sight of her. “You need to get out of the house, ma’am.”

Panic gripped her as she wildly looked around at the chaos invading her home. Then her gaze caught and held on the familiar eyes of the tall cowboy who’d just stepped into view. He was dressed in jeans and boots and a black Stetson hat, and the sight of his broad shoulders filling the doorway somehow grounded her.

She didn’t really know him—she’d briefly met him a few weeks ago. But that one time had shown his ability to stay calm and steady in a crisis situation. His name was Brody—Doctor Brody Tate. He was her best friend Bryn’s veterinarian. But why was a veterinarian at a house fire?

A plume of dark smoke billowed out of the kitchen, and Elle caught the distinct sound of the crackle of flames. She coughed, then turned around and ran back down the hallway.

She heard the older fireman’s voice yelling, “Get her out of here, Tate,” followed by the sound of cowboy boots sprinting up the stairs as she raced to the closed door at the end of the hall.

She pushed through, ignoring the rush of emotions that normally flooded her when she opened the door to the room decorated in pink-and-white stripes. A hand-knit pink blanket lay in the seat of the rocking chair. Elle grabbed it and clutched it to her chest. If she could only save one thing, it had to be this.

She turned back to see Brody in the doorway. He didn’t say anything, just reached for her hand and led her quickly back down the hallway.

They reached the top of the stairs, and she froze again at the commotion below—the rush of the firefighters’ feet, the commanding tone of their voices as they shouted orders, the pulsing flash of red lights against the white walls of her entryway.

Brody pulled at her hand, but she couldn’t move. He turned back and must have seen the panic in her eyes. His tone was soft as he swept her up, cradling her to him as if she weighed nothing at all. “It’s all right, darlin’. I’ve got you.”

She buried her face in his chest, clinging to him, as he carried her down the stairs and out the front door. Elle lifted her head and gulped at the fresh air.

“Is there anyone else in the house? Any pets?”

She shook her head. “No. Only me.”

“You remember me? We met a couple of weeks ago at Bryn’s?”

“Yes, I remember. But what are you doing here?” And why was she clutching his neck like he was a life preserver? A handsome, tall cowboy life preserver.

About Jennie Marts:

Jennie Marts is the USA TODAY Best-selling author of award-winning books filled with love, laughter, and always a happily ever after. Readers call her books “laugh out loud” funny and the “perfect mix of romance, humor, and steam.” Fic Central claimed one of her books was “the most fun I’ve had reading in years.”

She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.

Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky hockey-playing men in the Bannister family in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small-town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances.

Jennie loves to hear from readers. Follow her on Facebook at Jennie Marts Books, or Twitter at @JennieMarts. Visit her at www.jenniemarts.com and sign up for her newsletter to keep up with the latest news and releases.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Newsletter / Bookbub / Pinterest

 

Giveaway:

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GIVEAWAY & EXCERPT: Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman

 

I LOVED Wallflower!  It was impossible not to devour in one sitting and became an instant favorite.  You can read my 5 Star gushing review here.

I highly recommend seeing what this book is about and entering a wonderful giveaway below.  Enjoy ♥.

 

Wallflower
Cookie O’Gorman
Publication date: March 25th 2021
Genres: Romance, Young Adult

Wallflower (wohl-flou-erh): Identifier for someone who is shy and/or awkward. For reference, see Viola Kent.

Seventeen-year-old Viola Kent likes being invisible. Well, not literally, but she’s content being a loner, reading her books, and hanging out with the animals at the shelter. She just wants to keep her head down and get through her senior year at Durham High.

Driving Dare Frost to school every day wasn’t part of the plan.

And when Viola finds out her dad recruited Dare, his number one player, to be her friend?

Her inner Slytherin demands revenge.

The solution: Get Dare to be her fake boyfriend.

Convincing the star athlete to pretend is easier than she’d thought it would be. The hard part is protecting her heart. With every word, touch, and kiss, Viola’s feelings become more real.

The problem: Viola knows she’s falling for Dare—but he doesn’t believe in love.

This book features two sets of soulmates, one happy pooch named Hermione, so many sizzling kisses and answers the question:

Can a dork and a jock fake their way to true love?

 

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Excerpt:

This had to be a dream, I thought. Either that or a hallucination.

Standing in our driveway, leaning back against my little Honda, hands in his pockets like he was Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles or something, was a guy who knew he looked good even in sweats and a hoodie.

Dare Frost.

His six-foot-three frame dwarfed my car. Dare was the last person I expected to see waiting outside my house on my last first day of high school. I was so surprised it took me a second to find my voice.

But Dare just cocked his head.

“Morning flower,” he said. “Better hurry or we’ll be late.”

I shook myself out of it. “Are you lost?”

“Nope, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

“What are you even doing here?” I asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” He held his hands out, a small smile playing on his lips. “I’m here to bum a ride to school. Speaking of, could you pop the locks?” Dare rubbed his hands together. “It’s a little chilly out here.”

I laughed, couldn’t help it. “Are you crazy? Dare, I’m not taking you to school.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No. I’m not.”

Dare shrugged. “Coach said you would.”

My jaw dropped. “He did what? When? Why?”

“That’s a lot of questions,” he said. “But yeah, your dad and I talked the other day after practice. He said you’d give me a ride because we live so close to each other. Said it would be no problem. I run by your house every morning anyway. Plus, my car’s in the shop for repairs.”

“Didn’t you just get that car?” I asked.

The question made Dare smile for some reason. “You keeping tabs on me, Vi?”

I choked. “What? No!”

“Hey, no worries,” he said. “I’m not mad about it. A lot of girls do it. Just wasn’t aware you were one of them.”

About Cookie O’Gorman:

Cookie O’Gorman writes YA & NA romance to give readers a taste of happily-ever-after. Small towns, quirky characters, and the awkward yet beautiful moments in life make up her books. Cookie also has a soft spot for nerds and ninjas. Her novels ADORKABLE, NINJA GIRL, The Unbelievable, Inconceivable, Unforeseeable Truth About Ethan Wilder, The Good Girl’s Guide to Being Bad and WALLFLOWER are out now! She is also the author of NA sports romance, The Best Mistake.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bookbub / Newsletter

 

Giveaway:

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BOOK REVIEW: Headstrong (Vino & Veritas #3) by Eden Finley

BOOK REVIEW: Headstrong (Vino & Veritas #3) by Eden FinleyHeadstrong (Vino & Veritas #3)
by Eden Finley
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A straight guy gives gay hookup tips to a virgin. What could go wrong?

When I first met Whit, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s a hockey player, and I hate everything to do with the sport that once broke my heart.

But I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s newly out and desperate to meet someone, but his eagerness seems to scare potential hook-ups away.

Agreeing to be his wingman should’ve been simple. Watching him flirt with other guys made things complicated.

Whit challenges me in every aspect of my life, from my hatred of hockey to the new questions I’m asking myself. Like why a straight man suddenly can’t stop thinking about kissing another guy.

I think the answer lies somewhere on Whit’s lips...

Review

I’m going to let you in on something that I think is hilarious, lol. I am lucky enough to be part of Sarina Bowen’s ARC team and as such, was super lucky enough to snag a few of these World of True North books early. When I was going through this series, I saw the phrase “hockey player” and was like DAMN I need this. Then, as I was reading Heartscape I got to wondering, “Hmmm I wonder if any of these books will feature Rainn…I know he said he was straight when we first met him bartending in Roommate but I guess you never know.” LOL what do you know! The straight guy in the tagline for this book in in fact, Rainn.

Along with Rainn, his book features Whit, a hockey player at Moo U who has recently come out but has yet to have any sort of relationship/hookup with anyone. In attempts to remedy that, he decides to spend some time at the local bar that is popular and welcoming to the queer community and bumps into Rainn, quite literally. Basically they two are off to a shitty start, lol. Whit is the type of person who constantly has word vomit and can’t ever stop and Rainn is….the complete opposite lol. The two wind up striking up an unlikely friendship because Rainn feels for Whit after seeing him strike out a few times at the bar and Whit is convinced he’s going to make Rainn fall in love with hockey again.

Two things you have to know: #1 Rainn had been a great hockey player from Moo U with a bright future until a career ending injury snatched away his dreams. #2 Whit has a huge crush on Rainn.

Even though there were times that Whit’s personality kind of annoyed me?? Like some of the flippant word vomit I talked about earlier just made me think that he’s the type of person people either love or hate, lol. Overall I did love their relationship. The fact that Rainn just slowly started to realize that he couldn’t deny this chemistry the two of them shared. They just grew into a friendship that morphed into so much more and I loved that.

While there is a small bit of “drama” between the two towards the end, it’s completely realistic stuff. Especially with the type of emotional baggage Rainn has been carrying around since his injury. The way they both took the time to work on their own stuff for a short second to come back together stronger and more sure than ever made my heart happy. Another win for The World of True North!

Huge thanks to Heart Eyes Press for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!♥

BOOK REVIEW: Heartscape (Vino & Veritas #2) by Garrett Leigh

BOOK REVIEW: Heartscape (Vino & Veritas #2) by Garrett LeighHeartscape (Vino & Veritas #2)
by Garrett Leigh
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

From award-winning author Garrett Leigh comes a gorgeous new romance in the True North world! Think: great food, burly men and good times. Beards are optional but encouraged.

I’m not the obvious choice to run Burlington’s coolest wine bar—quiet, brooding, clueless about tannin content, and always one wrong turn away from another downward spiral.

But no one seems to mind that I'm a wreck. Besides me. I just focus on getting through each shift until the night a beautiful stranger appears, looking as lost and damaged as I feel.

When a mutual friend calls in a favor, the sexy newcomer winds up crashing on my couch. I don't know if it's his melodic Cornish accent, or his ocean blue eyes, or the rock-hard body with the mysterious scars, but I get the feeling whatever happened to him runs far deeper than those wounds.

Having Jax in my home makes my chest warm. Makes me shiver. Makes me want more. But I've got a pile of baggage and I don't want to be a burden on anyone let alone a man who seems to have enough demons of his own.

Our chemistry is off the charts. His arms feel like home. The last thing I want is to screw this up. Is it wrong to hope we can heal each other? Or will one of us die trying?

HEARTSCAPE is a heartfelt MM friends-to-lovers romance in the True North world, with a brooding bartender, a rugged outdoorsman, sweet angst and lots of Shipley cider. Triggers: contains mentions of depression, suicidal ideation and PTSD recovery.

Review

My favorite thing in immersing myself into this World of True North project so far has been that every book is so uniquely different. So many new authors, new writing, new characters–all wrapped up in a world I already know and love. Sometimes when you find yourself reading romance after romance, they start to blend together. I forget which names belong to which books and the tropes begin to loose that freshness they once had.

Something about this book was different. I don’t know if it was because I haven’t read a romance more on the angsty side in a while but Heartscape resonated deep within my bones. Tanner, manager of Vino and Veritas, and Jax, Cornish wildlife photographer both have their fair share of inner demons. Both have had terrible things happen to them at different points in their lives and bear those invisible scars the best they can. When a mutual friend and freak accident find them crossing paths, the two are immediately drawn to one another.

Leigh did an excellent job with drawing out both of their histories so that we only got little snippets here and there as Tanner and Jax became more and more comfortable around one another; more willing to open up. She also does an amazing job depicting all of VERY raw internal thoughts and feelings of both men. The different aspects of both of their mental heath issues are NOT taken lightly and I know I personally could tell she did her research.

Overall, while there weren’t many parts of this book that were “easy,” I felt that the way in which Tanner and Jax fell into a relationship was. It was quite obviously they were made for each other and even now, just thinking about how obvious their love for each other was just makes my heart so happy *cries* lol. Such a great book.

It’s Jax. It’s me. It’s the heartscape we’ll leave behind when we’re gone.

Huge thanks to Heart Eyes Press for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!♥

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