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Text Wars: May the Text be With You … , Book Cover Text Wars: May the Text be With You … ,
(An Accidentally in Love Story, #3)
Melanie Summers, Whitney Dineen
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: May 13th 2021

May the text be with you… Seraphina Lopez is not your typical airy-fairy astrology fanatic. First and foremost, she’s a businesswoman who happens to have a fascination with the stars. Her lifestyle app, “Live for Your Star Sign” is blowing up, and when she’s asked to be a guest on New York’s most watched Morning Show, she knows the exposure will launch her app into the stratosphere. Astrophysicist Ben Williams just landed his dream job at NASA’s Goddard Institute, Not only is he heading a multi-disciplinary team in search of habitable exo-planets, he’s also been tapped to be the spokesman for the project. While he’d much rather be crunching the numbers to pinpoint the location of Earth II, he also has to sell the concept to the American public. When Seraphina and Ben meet on the set of the Morning Show, sparks fly! Sera is there to show viewers how to dress for their star sign. Ben is there in the name of science. Their explosive chemistry sets records for the network’s viewing audience. As such they’re asked to host a regular segment–together. Ben and Sera hate each other so much, they resort to texting instead of talking when they’re off air (and sometimes on). Yet somewhere in the haze of dislike, they start to realize they have more in common than they thought possible. Is love written in the stars or will it burn up on impact? Find out in the Text Wars, the third installment of the deliciously funny and romantic Accidentally in Love Series.

Ben

Once I’m dragged off into the Green Room with all the gorgeous women, I sneak a peek at myself in one of the full-length mirrors propped against the wall. Who am I? And where is astrophysicist Ben Williams under all that hair gel and bronzer? This is going to be the single most humiliating experience of my life. Not only am I dressed like a banana for his first day of school, my manhood is on display like it’s about to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. How is anyone going to take me seriously? 

They won’t. That’s how. 

Not to mention, everyone I know, including my co-workers, will be watching. NOOOO!!! I have to stop this. Panic starts to build inside of me until my chest cavity feels like it’s about to explode.  

The bossy woman who made me take my underwear off loudly declares, “You all look great! This is going to be an amazing show!”

I have no idea what she’s talking about, but I don’t have time to ask because someone else comes in and says, “You’re on next. Follow me.”

I tug at these ridiculous pants in hopes they’ll magically grow three sizes and turn black. Or a nice brown, even. That would be good too. Although I don’t know if brown would go with this awful green vest. 

Oh, for pity’s sake, Ben, it doesn’t matter! Your pants aren’t going to change color so forget it. Unless …what if I change into normal pants? Yes, that’s the answer. As we march down the hall and pass my dressing room, I decide I’m going to put on my own clothes no matter what anyone says. As I open the door to dressing room three, I hear Serafina demand, “Where are you going?”

She doesn’t wait for an answer. Instead, she takes my hand and leads me to the third spot in line. “There. You’re right behind our Taurus.” 

Grinning broadly, she says, “Okay, everyone, you look fabulous. Just get out there and strut your fine selves.” 

Strut my fine self? What in the world is she talking about?

“Listen, I-I think there’s been a mistake,” I call out to her.

“I know, the pants aren’t exactly the right fit, but you can really get away with it, trust me.” She boldly winks which causes me even more distress. 

“No, not that …”

That Justin intern rushes over and says, “Ms. Lopez, you’re on!”

I try to get his attention, but he disappears, leaving me with no one to ask for help. I wait for what feels like forever, but I’m sure is only a couple of minutes, before Justin comes back and starts to lead us backstage. “When I point to you, walk onto the stage, turn left at the X, strut down the catwalk toward the studio audience. Pause for a count of two, then spin back around and go out the other way.”

He points to the woman in front of me. As she goes, I watch her carefully, trying to memorize what she’s doing. Okay, that doesn’t look so hard. It’s just walking, right? I can walk. Do they introduce all of their guests like this? My confusion equals my horror. I should have watched an episode of this show, so I knew what I was getting into.

When the woman turns back my way, she’s not smiling. Are we not supposed to smile? Do we pout? Yes, pouting seems right. How do you pout? 

Turning to the woman behind me, I say, “Does this look right?” then I push my lips out and try to look like I’m really angry about something. Which is actually true because I’m going to lose it on Dev when I see him. 

She wrinkles up her nose and answers, “You look like you’re trying to poop.”

Well, that was rude. I’m trying to learn. I give her a glare and she snaps her fingers. “Perfect! Now you’ve got some serious smolder going on.”

“Gemini Guy! Gemini Guy!” Justin whisper-yells. 

I spin around, realizing he means me. He points to the stage wearing a completely disgusted look. As I walk by, I hear him say something about models with rocks for brains into his headset. Models? I’m not a model.

My heart is thumping like a rabbit surrounded by a pack of bears as I walk, trying to keep time with the music which is some airy-fairy crap that doesn’t even have a beat. That bossy Serafina person is sitting on a chair next to the show’s hosts talking … about me … it turns out. 

“Geminis absolutely love to be the center of attention, almost to a fault. They’re known to be intelligent, passionate, fun, but also sometimes unreliable and are even called flighty.”

I keep walking toward center stage while I glare at her, causing me to miss the big X on the floor. 

“As you can see, our model truly is a flighty Gemini. He just missed his mark.” 

I hate this woman. I hate her with every cell of my being.

Hal lets out a laugh. “Other way, buddy!”

“Wow, those are some tight pants!” Lacey inserts. “I can see his center of attention!”

The audience laughs as I scramble to find the damn X. It’s actually quite large and is in bright green tape, so it’s pretty hard to miss. I stalk down the catwalk feeling like a piece of poorly-dressed meat. The audience—mainly older women—start to hoot and whistle and, I swear to God, one woman is waving a five-dollar bill at me. 

How the hell did I end up here? I have my PhD. I work for NASA.

I head back toward the hosts while that awful Serafina woman talks about astrology. I’m so busy trying to make sure I land on the X this time I almost don’t hear Hal say, “Geminis really must be flighty because our other guest, Dr. Ben Williams, didn’t bother to show up for Star Day. I understand he’s a Gemini as well.”

I stop in my tracks and stare at him, sweat trickling down my back. 

Hal looks at me while making a scooting gesture with his hands. “You can go now.”

Astrology girl gives me an urgent head nod toward the exit. Now is my only chance to fix what has gone terribly, terribly wrong. “I’m Ben Williams.”

All three of them stare at me like I’ve just said I’m from planet Zorbits. Lacey gives me a sympathetic look, as though she feels so bad for the male model who’s so dumb he doesn’t know his own name. “Um, no. Ben Williams is a rocket scientist. You’re a model.” She says this slowly like it’s the only way I’ll be able to understand her. 

I wait while the audience has a good laugh at my expense while ignoring Justin and some other woman with a headset who are frantically waving at me. “I’m not a rocket scientist.”

Giving me a condescending look, Hal says, “We know you’re not, buddy. But you’re still special, okay? Now, off you go!”

The fashion show music stops, and the audience becomes so still you’d think they were waiting for me to perform a magic show. Off to the side, I see two security guards at the ready. I swallow hard, then keep going. “There’s no such thing as a rocket scientist,” I say. “What you’re thinking of is actually called an aeronautical engineer or an astronautical engineer. Rocket scientist is a dumbed down word for the job.” 

“Wow,” Lacey says, blinking at me. “You know a lot about rocket science.”

I shut my eyes at her inane statement, then open them and say, “That’s because I’m an astrophysicist.” 

The astrology “expert” (and I’m using that term lightly) seems to be the first one of the three geniuses to figure out who I am. “Wait, if you’re Dr. Williams, why are you masquerading as a male model?”

***************************

Serafina

“What did you do with my model?” I hiss at Ben Williams as soon as he’s seated next to me.

He rolls his eyes. “Obviously I murdered him and stuffed his body in the closet so I could make my lifelong dream of coming on national television as a complete ass come true.”

Before I can slay him with a witty comeback, Lacey waves her hands frantically to shut me up. Then she turns to the camera and gushes, “Welcome back to Wake Up America! In case you’re just joining us, we have astrophysicist Dr. Ben Williams on today, here to talk about NASA’s Earth Two project. But before we get to Dr. Williams, Serafina Lopez, creator of the smashing Live for Your Star Sign app, is going to give us a fashion-forward look for your star sign.”

Hal continues, “We had a surprise model in the form of Dr. Williams here. Tell us, Ben, are you really a Gemini?”

“I have no idea.”

“According to our research, you are,” Lacey hurries to say. “You’d think you’d know that, being a rocket scientist and all.” 

Dr. Grumpy Pants pauses, then slowly explains, “Science is the systematic, logical, and relentless pursuit of knowledge to help us better understand the universe and all things in it. Astrology is the pursuit of unsuspecting people’s money through trickery, predictions so vague they could apply to anyone in any given location, and blatant insensitivity to empirical evidence.” He glances at me, then turns back to Lacey. “For you to presume I should possess the knowledge of which utterly irrelevant category I land in based on my date of birth is about as useful as knowing which house I’d fit into at Hogwarts. It’s meaningless. It’s nothing more than a party game.”

“A party game?” I blurt out. “I’ll have you know that the practical use of astrology dates back to the third millennium BC. It is rooted in the calendrical system as a predictor of seasonal shifts and even helped drive the development of modern-day astronomy.”

“Please, that’s like saying the first grunt from an Australopithecus is responsible for modern literature.”

“Australo-what-a-cus?” Hal asks, hamming it up for the audience.

“Australopithecus—the first ancestor of man.”

I jump in, righteous indignation bubbling in my chest. “I would argue that the first grunt from an Australopithecus is the origin of modern literature and speech.”

“You’d be wrong. Just because ancient astrologers looked into the sky, doesn’t mean they had the first clue what they were seeing.” He gives me a satisfied smile that I’m tempted to slap off his face. Then, turning away from me as if I’ve been dismissed, he leans closer to Lacey. He smiles at her and shrugs his eyebrows in a sleazy fashion. “What’s your sign? Can I buy you a drink?”

Lacey doesn’t seem to gather that he’s being facetious because she winks back and answers, “How about if you take me for a ride on your rocket ship?”

“Okay, there, Lacey,” Hal laughs nervously. “We don’t want to get sued for sexual harassment.”

“Then Dr. Ben shouldn’t have worn those pants,” Lacey says.

The audience laughs appreciatively, and one woman even calls out, “Stand up and show us your rocket ship again!” This of course leads to more hilarity. 

Dr. Jerkface grins, before instructing, “Eyes up here, ladies.”

Oh great, now they’ve burst into applause and are hooting. How did this become the Dr. Ben show? I need to take back control of this segment before I lose the viewers’ interest in my app. So, I do the only thing I can think of. I stand up to draw attention to myself and loudly say, “If you’ll start the music again, I’d like to introduce Cancer!”

The mystical flute soundtrack I chose for this segment starts to play as a forty-something model with long silver hair and rose-colored sunglasses sashays out. She’s wearing a flowing batik-patterned summer dress, “Our celestial hippy chick likes to be comfortable while showcasing her innate psychic abilities. Just don’t cross her or she might pinch you like the crab from her astrological symbol.”

Lacey gushes, “I would so wear that dress! I love how you paired it with sandals that lace up the calves. Really chic.”

“Cancer thrives while displaying their carefree fashion sense,” I tell her brightly.

“No, they don’t,” Dr. Jerky McIHateHimFace mutters. “Because that’s not a thing.”

“Yeah, it is,” I tell him as my Cancer model finishes her walk. When she’s offstage, I announce, “Leo is the royalty of the zodiac.” My model is in her twenties, and she has bright orange curls that are slightly teased around her head like a lion’s mane. She’s wearing a gold lamé evening gown that only has one strap, the other shoulder is completely bare. “Leos love to strut their stuff, so if this is your star sign, going bold with your fashion is going to help bring you to your best life.”

“I doubt that very much,” Dr. Ben grumbles. “I can tell you for a fact I wouldn’t be living my best life in these ridiculous banana pants.”

When my Leo model reaches the end of the catwalk and walks back toward us, Hal growls like a lion while gesturing with his hands like he’s the aforementioned cat about to pounce. “Rooooooar! I like that one. She looks like a queen!”

“Who’s getting sued for sexual harassment now?” Lacey seemingly jokes. I say seemingly because I don’t think Hal and Lacey actually like each other. I’m guessing a good deal of their success as a hosting duo is based on discord as it keeps everyone on their toes. Even so, I would absolutely hate to work with someone I couldn’t stand on a regular basis. Talk about upsetting my sense of balance.

******************************

Serafina

Standing in the wings of the Wake Up America! set, I listen while Hal says, “When we come back from commercial break, Serafina and Ben will tell us all about their trip to the Kennedy Space Center!” The live audience claps like they’ve just been promised a brand-new Buick, Oprah-style.

As soon as I hear, “We’re in commercial.” I hurry out on set and sit down. There are four chairs instead of two, which is the tip-off that Hal and Lacey are going to be sitting in. 

As Ben takes the seat opposite mine, I whisper to Lacey, “I didn’t think you guys were going to be sitting in on our segments anymore.”

“Just this once. The producer said something about having concerns about you and Ben?”

“What concerns?” I demand. So help me, if Ben ruins this publicity opportunity for me, I’m going to send daily glitter bombs. Speaking of which, I can’t help but smile when I see some shiny flecks coming from his hairline. Looks like my first offering has already arrived. 

“We’re back in five, four, three …” someone off set counts.

“Welcome back to Wake Up America!” Lacey practically shouts. “Serafina and Ben are back from their trip to Cape Canaveral, and they have a lot to tell us. Isn’t that right, Ben?”

“Sure,” Ben says but doesn’t offer anything more. 

“Tell us about it,” Hal encourages.

“It was hot.” Ben looks beyond annoyed.

I decide to do my part to keep the conversation rolling. “As you know, Hal and Lacey, Florida is a steamer this time of year, but the Space Center didn’t fail to deliver its one-of-a-kind, out-of-this-world excitement.”

They both turn to me while Ben stares daggers at me. I continue, “I, for one, have been there no fewer than a half a dozen times and I can’t get enough.”

“What do you like about it most?” Hal asks.

“When you see all of those rockets and shuttles and realize they’ve all been to outer space, it’s, well, it’s just awe-inspiring.” I’m playing my part of the happiest woman on the planet. My face is so frozen into place, my cheeks are starting to cramp.

“I think something else happened in Florida too, am I right?” Lacey asks with a secretive smile on her face.

Damn, I thought Waltraut was going to tell the producers the kiss tape was off limits. I decide to play dumb on the off chance she’s talking about something else. “What are you referring to, Lacey?” Then I shoot her a panicky look that doubles as a plea not to do her job and show the tape of our kissing. 

Ben seems to finally clue into what’s about to go down, because he jumps to his feet and starts to babble, “I’d like to take a moment and tell our viewers about the fantastic opportunity to send their kids to space camp. The program includes a full week of space activities, like the anti-gravity simulator. All meals and snacks, and even a graduation ceremony and certificate, are provided at no additional cost!” He sounds like he’s trying to sell blenders on late night television.

Hal interrupts him, “I hear you two got to actually suit up and visit the moon. That had to be fun.”

Rats, here we go. We watch the television monitor off-set, the same one I know they’ve cut to on camera. Ben and I are hand-in-hand, walking toward the photo op. Video Ben says, “I can’t wear that. How long has it been since it’s been cleaned?” The audience laughs. When he says “You can’t wear loafers in space,” they’re in near-hysterics. 

Then, as expected, they’ve spliced the tape together to show us against the green screen, followed by the photographs we were given at the end—us in the space shuttle, floating in space, and on the moon. As I watch, I feel like a defendant in a courtroom waiting for the jury to come back with a death sentence.

Lacey looks into the camera and announces, “Just when you think Ben and Serafina will never like each other …” We all turn to look at the screen as our first kiss is unveiled right there on national television. Words escape me. That is one hot kiss and even though I’m annoyed it ever happened, my skin still heats up like I’m a pig on a spit. 

The audience oohs and ahs, whistles and claps. Hal interrupts them by asking, “Is there something you two kids want to tell us?”

I merely look down and stare at my hands while shaking my head. 

Ben, on the other hand, announces, “I’ll tell you what happened. Serafina here laid on the charm super thick during our trip and I momentarily lost my mind.”

“Are you saying that what we just saw was a one-off?” Lacey asks. 

I say, “Yes,” at the same time Ben gives a firm, “NO!”

Author Bio

Whitney Dineen loves to laugh, play with her kids, bake, and eat french fries — not always in that order.

Whitney is a multi-award-winning author of romcoms, non-fiction humor, and middle reader fiction. Basically, she writes whatever the voices in her head tell her to. 

She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband, Jimmy, where they raise children, chickens, and organic vegetables.

Gold Medal winner at the International Readers’ Favorite Awards, 2017.

Silver medal winner at the International Readers’ Favorite Awards, 2015, 2016.

Finalist RONE Awards, 2016.

Finalist at the IRFA 2016, 2017.

Finalist at the Book Excellence Awards, 2017

Finalist Top Shelf Indie Book Awards, 2017

Author links:
https://whitneydineen.com/
https://twitter.com/whitneydineen
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8145525.Whitney_Dineen
https://www.instagram.com/whitneydineenauthor/
https://www.facebook.com/Whitney-Dineen-Author-11687019412/






Melanie Summers also writes steamy romance as MJ Summers.

Melanie made a name for herself with her debut novel, Break in Two, a contemporary romance that cracked the Top 10 Paid on Amazon in both the UK and Canada, and the top 50 Paid in the USA. Her highly acclaimed Full Hearts Series was picked up by both Piatkus Entice (a division of Hachette UK) and HarperCollins Canada. Her first three books have been translated into Czech and Slovak by EuroMedia. Since 2013, she has written and published three novellas, and eight novels (of which seven have been published). She has sold over a quarter of a million books around the globe.

In her previous life (i.e. before having children), Melanie got her Bachelor of Science from the University of Alberta, then went on to work in the soul-sucking customer service industry for a large cellular network provider that shall remain nameless (unless you write her personally – then she’ll dish). On her days off, she took courses and studied to become a Chartered Mediator. That designation landed her a job at the R.C.M.P. as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator for ‘K’ Division. Having had enough of mediating arguments between gun-toting police officers, she decided it was much safer to have children so she could continue her study of conflict in a weapon-free environment (and one which doesn’t require makeup and/or nylons).

Melanie resides in Edmonton with her husband, three young children, and their adorable but neurotic one-eyed dog. When she’s not writing novels, Melanie loves reading (obviously), snuggling up on the couch with her family for movie night (which would not be complete without lots of popcorn and milkshakes), and long walks in the woods near her house. She also spends a lot more time thinking about doing yoga than actually doing yoga, which is why most of her photos are taken ‘from above’. She also loves shutting down restaurants with her girlfriends. Well, not literally shutting them down, like calling the health inspector or something–more like just staying until they turn the lights off.

She is represented by Suzanne Brandreth of The Cooke Agency International. 


Author links: 

https://mjsummersbooks.wordpress.com/

https://www.instagram.com/mj_summers_author/

https://www.facebook.com/MJSummersAuthorPage

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17105602.Melanie_Summers

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Marry who? Book Review

A Chip on Her Shoulder Book Cover A Chip on Her Shoulder
Magical Romantic Comedies (with a body count)
R. J. Blain
Fiction
Pen and Page Publishing
2020-09
406

After a deal with loan sharks sours, Darlene's brother is permanently transformed into a chipmunk. Not one to accept impossibility as a good excuse for failure, she's determined to rescue her brother and secure revenge against those who'd poisoned him with grade-a transformatives.If she wants to perform a miracle, she'll need to join forces with a divine, but the man upstairs and his angels refuse to help.None of the other so-called benevolent divines are willing to help her, either.Running out of time and options, Darlene prepares to storm the gates of hell for her brother.She never expected to fall in love with the Devil.Warning: this novel contains a woman with a chip on her shoulder, humor, and one hell of a hero. Proceed with caution.

Chip on her shoulder

Note that the ‘chip’ is actually a chipmunk – aka her brother!

This story goes back to explain some of the characters we have already met in this series. In particular the Queen of Hell – Darlene – who is a snow leopard, and why the Devil, her husband, is fascinated with counting her spots.

We learn about their romance and how it happened and the role that HE played in it, along with the Devil’s brothers, Michael and Gabriel – yes, the Archangels.

It also explains just how Darlene got the Devil to say the really rude words of ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ [snigger snigger], which the Devil considers to be really filthy language alongside the word ‘Patience’.

As always in this series, we have some really funny episodes and snarky women who wrap their menfolk around their little fingers, or in Darlene’s case, her spots.

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Twins and… Series Review

Objects of Attraction Book Cover Objects of Attraction
The Objects of Attraction
Penelope Bloom
Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Humour

This 6-book collection includes:
Book 1: His Banana - My new boss likes rules, but there's one nobody dares to break...
No touching his banana.
Seriously. The guy is like a potassium addict.
Of course, I touched it.
If you want to get technical, I actually put it in my mouth.
I chewed it up, too... I even swallowed.
I know. Bad, bad, girl.
Then I saw him, and believe it or not, choking on a guy's banana does not make the best first impression.
*His Banana now includes a never-before-published bonus scene to conclude the book.

Book 2: Her Cherry (Top 10 Amazon Bestseller) - How’d I meet her?
Well, a gentleman never brags.
Thankfully, I’m no gentleman.
First, I paid for her cherry (pie, but that’s not the point),
Next, I deflowered her.
After that? I left my business card and walked out like I owned the place.
Yeah, you could say we hit it off.
*Her Cherry now includes a never-before-published bonus scene to conclude the book.

Book 3: His Treat (top 10 Amazon Bestseller) - Having a hot boss isn’t complicated or confusing at all,
Said no one ever…
But all I have to do is resist for a few months.
Come January, I’m flying to Paris to chase my dream of being an artist,
Too bad I can’t have my treat and eat it, too.

Book 4: His Package (top 10 Amazon Bestseller) - His package ended up inside my box.
Calm down, perv. My mailbox.
As soon as I saw what was inside,
I knew two things:
It belonged to my hot neighbor, and he had a dirty secret.

Book 5: Her Secret (top 40 Amazon Bestseller) - I’ll admit it. I messed up.
Mistake #1: Asking Peter Barnidge for a job.
Mistake #2: Accepting his offer instead of throwing it in his face like I planned.
Mistake #3: In the interest of stopping before #99, I’ll pretend the only other mistake was withholding one, tiny little nugget of truth during my interview.

Book 6: Her Bush (top 40 Amazon Bestseller) - Everything went wrong when I trimmed his bush.
And no, it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m a professional.
The client hired me to trim a bush in his garden for a party.
I accidentally turned it into something that rhymes with “a big rock and walls”.
Imagine my surprise when the art world decides it’s a masterpiece.

Book 7: Grammy's Story (brand new novella only available in this bundle) - She's kept quiet about the story of her first love for years. But when the opportunity to recount every hilarious, graphic detail of their love to William, Hailey, Bruce, and Natasha comes up, she can't resist. Grammy's story is a quick but sweet and funny story about how she met her first love when she was eighteen and had just moved to Manhattan.

If you love hilariously heartfelt stories with just the right amount of swoon and a little dose of ridiculous for good measure, then clear your calendar. Once you dive in, it's going to be days before you come up for air from this bundle. Scroll up and one-click now!

Series of 6 books on KU.

All books revolve around a set of characters that, end up at least, knowing each other and becoming friends.

We start with non-identical identical twins. They are identical in height and immediate appearance, but their characters are quite different as is their clothes and hair styling. But they work together in the media organisation they have built from scratch and have become multi-millionaires. And basically have more money than they know what to do with, as a result, the chaos twin spends it on weird and wonderful projects – but that is his secret skill set – wild and wacky ideas that become money makers.

Book 2 is the OCD twin with a banana fixation and who marries a clumsy journalist; book 2 is the chaos twin with a small case of kleptomania and who marries a baker. Book 3 is the baker’s assistant who takes over her firm and so on.

These are all straight forward rom-com trope stories with lots of humour, light-hearted and easy reading. And there seems to be a fixation with butts…

And I have just read the next book in the series about the OCD twin’s son – and yes there is a banana here too. Same fun style.

Ps the next series also on KU is about the children of these first pairings

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Lady Gardeners Rule OK: Book Review

The Fair Botanists Book Cover The Fair Botanists
Sara Sheridan
Historical Fiction | Romance | Women's Fiction
Hodder & Stoughton
Pub Date 5 Aug 2021

Could one rare plant hold the key to a thousand riches?

It's the summer of 1822 and Edinburgh is abuzz with rumours of King George IV's impending visit. In botanical circles, however, a different kind of excitement has gripped the city. In the newly-installed Botanic Garden, the Agave Americana plant looks set to flower - an event that only occurs once every few decades.

When newly widowed Elizabeth arrives in Edinburgh to live with her late husband's aunt Clementina, she's determined to put her unhappy past in London behind her. As she settles into her new home, she becomes fascinated by the beautiful Botanic Garden which borders the grand house and offers her services as an artist to record the rare plant's impending bloom. In this pursuit, she meets Belle Brodie, a vivacious young woman with a passion for botany and the lucrative, dark art of perfume creation.

Belle is determined to keep both her real identity and the reason for her interest the Garden secret from her new friend. But as Elizabeth and Belle are about to discover, secrets don't last long in this Enlightenment city . . .

And when they are revealed, they can carry the greatest of consequences.

I loved this book – but then I am a keen gardener and plant afficionado and as it happens I collect agaves and aloes especially, of all succulents and exotic Mediterranean plants. Not cactii. But a few euphorbia. Preferably not too prickly! I do have an Agave Americana in my collection, and interestingly of all agave, these are now the most common, even though, to be honest, I have never seen one flower in a garden. I have seen them flower on Mediterranean mountain sides. The flower is not very exotic. Normally they grow a lot of offsets and propagation is through them. I have masses of grey agave from offsets.

I thought that the sensory discussion about smells having colours was interesting as this is a well known phenomena – people also have music colours and taste colours.  And I liked the idea that smells produce emotions as people often associated perfume with a particular time, place, or person.

The setting up of the new Botanical Garden was fascinating. And how they transplanted the trees. In barrels. I always thought that they used sacking round the roots to transplant and to remove the soil. This was clearly a very different, and perhaps less brutal way, as the finer roots wouldn’t be damaged.

The argument over whether a botanical garden is for medicinal uses still ranges – especially now that we discover that many plants that were once thought to be ornamental – such as green beans – are now used for food; and others such as yew are used to extract (a cancer) drug from it called paclitaxel (Taxol), which is an antimitotic agent which stops cell division, resulting in cell death and this prevents cancer growth.

I knew about pineapples being a status symbol and that many wealthy plantation owners put a pineapple finial on their gates to indicate that they had grown them, but I was unaware about strawberries being a new plant. According to wikipedia, the garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile by Amédée-François Frézier in 1714. Strawberry fragrance is extremely complicated – it has 31 elements that give it its flavour and scent and it is claimed to be useful in alleviating diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and osteoarthritis.

I did like the idea of a bath oil to help alleviate period pains – the doctors all being male (at this time, and what about later researchers and grants?) would think that was nothing to concern themselves over. And so it has continued for many years. As has been said, if only male doctors got periods there would have been a cure for the pain and discomfort long ago! Today the use of oil for cramps is common in the complementary medical world, and they recommend: peppermint, lavender, cypress oil, clary sage, rose, copaiba, cinnamon, and bergamot peel, roman chamomile flower, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, geranium, fennel seed, carrot seed, palmarosa herb, and vitex leaf berry, not to mention siberian fir. So there is a large number of essential oils that can help and special blends are available.

So what did I think of the book apart from all this wonderful plant knowledge? I loved it. I thought it very clever the way the various stories about the people of Edinburgh were blended into the story of the Botanical garden move and the excitement over a unique flower and other special, and new to that time, plants. The style was good and easy to read as well as being informative. We well understood that this was a blend of historical facts and fiction. The visit in 1822 of the Prince Regent to Edinburgh was real. Sir Walter Scott and his insistence on tartan for the dress code elevated the fabric to become again symbol of identity – as it had been forbidden after the Jacobite Rising.

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Grave Robbing and Other Hobbies Book Cover Grave Robbing and Other Hobbies
(Grave Concerns #1)
Jayce Carter
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Reverse Harem, Romance
Publication date: April 20th 2021

Ghosts, corpses and four hot men—what’s a girl to do? Abandoned at three—whose parents want a kid who sees ghosts?—I learned the world is quick to punish misfits. I try my best to be a normal, boring human, but the call of the supernatural just won’t be ignored. When a stranger shows up on my doorstep in the middle of the night, it’s no sexy tryst. Instead, I’m off to the graveyard, digging up the corpse of a murder victim at the demand of the local vampire coven—and that small felony is just the start. The spirit of the woman has gone missing—something that shouldn’t be possible—and everyone is looking to me for answers. There’s Kase, a vampire who’s both terrifying and secretive. Grant, a mage with a bad attitude and a lot of power. Troy, the possessive werewolf-detective next door and Hunter, a mysterious bad boy who isn’t even close to human. It’s a race not just against time but against everything to figure out where the spirits are going, who’s behind it and if I can trust the men who now share my bed. And all because of a little grave robbing…  

Ghosts, corpses and four hot men—what’s a girl to do?⁣

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Excerpt 1:

Hunter didn’t remove his hand from my mouth. It made me realize he was also entirely pressed against me, and despite it not being possible, he felt better than he’d looked. His skin was warm, even through my robe.

He took his hand off my mouth but didn’t move away. “Stay still,” he whispered against my ear.

“Why? Is it coming back?”

“No. I just really like looking down your robe.”

As soon as his words sank in, when I moved past the adrenaline and the purr of his voice, I realized that yes, my robe had bagged open and he had a perfect view down the front.

I elbowed him, but he didn’t seem to even feel it. He released me, though the way he did it implied my little move hadn’t meant a thing.

“I am so tired of people breaking into my house,” I said.

“You aren’t human, and you don’t have any wards. That’s the same as a ‘come on in’ sign in our world.”

“I am human.”

“Sure, shadow-girl.” He sent me a conspiratorial wink, as if we were on the joke together.

“No, I actually am. No funky teeth, no freaky eyes. Human.” I pointed at my face as though that drove the point home.

He waved at himself. “No funky teeth, no freaky eyes. Very much not human. Sure, though, if you want to pretend, I’m not one to turn down a bit of good roleplay. You want to be innocent Little Red Riding Hood? I’ll play the wolf.”

His suggestion derailed me. How could it not? Any girl who claimed she hadn’t had entirely inappropriate dreams about the wolf in that story was a damned liar. Once I’d reached a certain age, ‘all the better to eat you with’ had taken on a very different meaning.

I pictured a dark, heavily wooded forest as I ran, something on my heels, gaining ground. His warm breath on my neck when he caught me…

Suddenly I didn’t care what he’d said, why he was there or what exactly he meant by him ‘not being human’.

Until I recalled he’d broken in, and clearly him showing up at my office wasn’t a coincidence.

He snorted. “I liked where your mind was going before.”

“What are you doing here? And what was that thing?”

“Don’t we have better things to discuss? Or we can do away with talking all together.”

“I don’t sleep with people who might kill me, but thanks.”

“If someone might not kill you, are they even worth sleeping with in the first place?”

Excerpt 2:

I nodded, then handed the ice pack back to him. When he took it, he frowned at a red mark that remained on the white pack.

“Sorry.” I turned my hand over, the one Grant had cut, to find that sure enough, I’d managed to tear open the scab.

“What happened?”

“Grant needed my blood for the wards.”

He frowned, as though he disliked the idea. “He could have done less damage.”

“That’s what I said, but he said it was about the sacrifice of the action.”

Kase lifted his thumb to his mouth and pressed it against the tip of his fang. He didn’t grimace, didn’t show any reaction to the wound.

Blood welled at the top, a red so dark it was almost purple.

Which sent me bolting. I jumped to my feet, wanting that blood nowhere near me.

Kase didn’t grab me—and I knew damn well he could have, because vampires were terrifyingly fast—but he stared. “Really?”

“I may not always love my life, but I do love being alive. No thanks to that.” I waved at his thumb.

“How can you be so ignorant of our world? You can’t be turned into a vampire from a little blood.”

“That sounds like men who say a girl can’t get knocked up because it’s just the tip.”

“I am sterile, so that isn’t an issue I deal with.” Kase spoke with such flatness of his voice, I almost missed that he’d made a joke, even more so because he so quickly moved on from it. “To be changed from mortal, a person has to die. My blood will help to heal you, but it won’t change you since I, again, don’t plan on killing you.”

I pressed my lips together, then responded slowly. “You know, I normally don’t spend so much time around people who have to keep telling me they don’t plan on killing me.”

“Would you rather I not tell you that?”

“I’d rather you not need to tell me that.”

Excerpt 3:

“You need to do something,” I said as Kase and Troy struck a wall and knocked off a painting. Sure, it was a cheap one I’d picked up at a chain store, some mass-produced image of cherry blossoms I’d always thought would make me a calmer person, but it was my stupid painting and they’d ruined it!

“You’re right,” Grant said and snapped his fingers, whispering a few words.

The two fighting seemed unaffected, however, as Troy flung Kase off him and Kase sailed back, almost faster than my vision could follow.

I was about to tell Grant it hadn’t worked when I realized he held a bowl of popcorn now.

Had he really used his magic to summon popcorn? Hunter reached over me to grab a handful.

“You said you couldn’t use magic for frivolous things,” I stammered.

“I can’t.”

“You used it to get popcorn!”

Grant lifted the popcorn as though to make a point. “This isn’t frivolous, Ava. There is a man-on-man fight here—that requires snacks to properly watch. Get your priorities straight.”

My mouth hung open. Every time I thought I had my feet under me with these men, they showed me how wrong I was.

“They could kill each other,” I finally said.

“Sure, but they won’t.” Hunter stole another handful of popcorn and tossed some in his mouth, a few pieces falling to the couch. “Troy hasn’t fully shifted and Kase isn’t biting. This is just one of those macho alpha dominance shows. Let’s all be glad they’re doing this instead of actually measuring dicks. Trust me, that just hurts feelings.”

I went to get up, but Hunter wrapped an arm around me to keep me there. “Nope. This? This is the sort of thing where an accidental stray punch could end a fragile thing like you. Best to stay out of fights between immortals.”

“They’re wrecking my place,” I complained and winced as they destroyed yet another small table. It splintered into a million pieces, and even though I couldn’t for the life of me recall where I’d gotten it from, the loss made me sigh.

“They’ll fix it. Hell, they’ll probably get you nicer stuff just because they feel bad. Make sure you milk that. I want a large-screen TV here,” Grant told me before offering me some popcorn.

And, really, what was a girl to do? I couldn’t stop the fight and the two people who could—Hunter and Grant—didn’t seem all that driven to do so.

So I took some of the popcorn and joined in on the show.

Apparently saving the world would need to wait for these two to work out their little testosterone-driven fight.

It seemed all men were alike, immortal or not.

Children.



iBooks: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/grave-robbing-and-other-hobbies/id1555742936
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/grave-robbing-and-other-hobbies
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jayce_Carter_Grave_Robbing_and_Other_Hobbies?id=_TAhEAAAQBAJ

Author Bio

Jayce Carter lives in Southern California with her husband and two spawns. She originally wanted to take over the world but realized that would require wearing pants. This led her to choosing writing, a completely pants-free occupation. She has a fear of heights yet rock climbs for fun and enjoys making up excuses for not going out and socializing.


Author links:

https://www.jaycecarter.com/

https://www.facebook.com/JayceCarterAuthor/

https://www.instagram.com/jaycecarterauthor/?hl=en

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19718300.Jayce_Carter

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