Friday, 15 December 2017

Book Blitz; Beauty and Beastly by Melanie Karsak


Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast
Melanie Karsak
(Steampunk Fairy Tales)
Publication date: December 6th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, Steampunk
In this tale as old as time, Isabelle Hawking must tinker a solution to a heartbreaking mystery.
When Isabelle Hawking and her papa set out from London on a sea voyage, Isabelle is thrilled. Visiting foreign courts, learning from master tinkers, and studying mechanicals is her dream. And it doesn’t hurt that the trip also offers Isabelle an escape from her overbearing and unwanted suitor, Gerard LeBoeuf.
But Isabelle never arrives. Swept up in a tempest, her ship is lost.
Isabelle survives the storm only to be shipwrecked on a seemingly-deserted island. The magical place, dotted with standing stones, faerie mounds, and a crumbling castle, hints of an ancient past. Isabelle may be an unwilling guest, but her arrival marks a new beginning for the beastly residents of this forgotten land.
See how NY Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak puts a steampunk spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.
EXCERPT:
“Hello? Is anyone there?”
The sky overhead darkened, and in the distance, I heard the rumble of thunder.
Oh no. No, no, no.
I looked up at the sky. My head swam.
I needed to find shelter.
I turned to go back to the path, but when I did so, I didn’t see the path, nor the ring of mushrooms, nor anything else vaguely familiar.
Once more, the sky rumbled.
I felt the first of the raindrops on my head, but luckily, the thick leaves overhead sheltered me somewhat. As the storm rolled in, the forest grew dark.
I cast a glance around.
It didn’t matter which direction I went. Eventually I would find the shore once more.
Turning to head out, however, I spotted a bluish colored light in the distance. A house? A fire? A lantern? A…something.
“Hello?”
No reply.
Turning, I followed the bluish glow. I headed deeper into the forest, chasing after the light, but soon found its source. It was a mushroom. The glowing mushroom had been sitting on a rise. It had played a trick on my mind. Then I spotted another glowing fungus, then another, and another, all of which held an incandescent blue light. They grew in a straight line. Without a better recourse, and feeling half suspicious of the supernatural, I followed the glow of the blue mushrooms as the rain pattered overhead, the sky rumbling. I followed the blue lights deep into the ancient woods, aware that I was passing other sacred rings. I walked past a mound of earth, a barrow, the final resting place of some ancient person—and some said a passageway to the Otherworld—as I hurried deeper into the woods. Surely I would find the shoreline soon.
Lightning cracked overhead.
Then, on the horizon, I saw golden light. A fire? I squinted my eyes, trying to make out the shape through the trees, but my head ached miserably. Leaning heavily against my staff, I moved toward the golden colored light.
The forest thinned. The glowing mushrooms led me onward toward the glow of the yellow light in the distance. Praying to find someone—anyone—I followed along, well aware that my quick exertion had my stomach rolling. Black spots wriggled before my eyes. The line of mushrooms ended. To my shock, I’d blundered to the center of the island and found myself standing outside the gates of a castle.
I gazed up at the enormous structure. It towered over me, a black silhouette on the horizon. Light glowed through one of the windows in the upper floors. It was raining in earnest now. Not waiting a moment longer, I pushed the gate. It swung open with a creak.
It was pouring.
I leaned my walking staff against a metal bench in the perfectly manicured garden, then grabbing my skirts, I ran for the castle door. As I rushed, lightning flashed. It created an odd illusion on the bushes and flowers around me. For a moment, they all seemed to glimmer like metal under the bright light.
My temples pounded. My stomach rolled. I raced through the heavy rain to the castle door.
Hoping whoever was at home would forgive me for letting myself in, I pushed open the castle door and crept inside.
The place was eerily silent.
“Hello?” I called. “Is anyone here?”
Breathing deeply and quickly, I realized the moment I stopped that I was not well.
I cast a glance toward a roaring fireplace nearby. A chair was seated before the hearth, a glass of something dark sitting beside the seat. I heard a strange clicking sound.
“Hello?” I called again, but this time, my head began to spin. I put my hands on my hips, trying to catch my breath. I closed my eyes. Everything was twirling.
Footsteps approached.
“I-I’m sorry I let myself in but…” I began then opened my eyes.
Standing before me was a massive automaton, its silver eyes staring coldly at me.
A nauseous feeling swept over me, and my head swam. Black spots danced before my eyes.
“Pardon me. I think I’m about to—”
Faint.
But the word was lost.
And so was I.


Author Bio:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Melanie Karsak is the author of The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, The Burnt Earth Series, The Celtic Blood Series and Steampunk Fairy Tales. A steampunk connoisseur, zombie whisperer, and heir to the iron throne, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

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Thursday, 14 December 2017

Review; Chocolat by Joanne Harris

(This post contains affiliate links.)

With Foodie Read Challenge in mind, I ended up reading Chocolat by Joanne Harris and now comes my review of the novel.

Description From Goodreads
Try me...Test me...Taste me.

When an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, arrives in the French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church, Father Reynaud identifies her as a serious danger to his flock - especially as it is the beginning of Lent, the traditional season of self-denial. War is declared as the priest denounces the newcomer's wares as instruments of murder.
Suddenly Vianne's shop-cum-cafe means that there is somewhere for secrets to be whispered, grievances to be aired, dreams to be tested. But Vianne's plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community in a conflict that escalates into a 'Church not Chocolate' battle. As mouths water in anticipation, can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate eclair?
For the first time here is a novel in which chocolate enjoys its true importance, emerging as a moral issue, as an agent of transformation - as well as a pleasure bordering on obsession. Rich, clever and mischievous, this is a triumphant read.


" 'I believe that being happy is the only important thing', I told him at last.
Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive."

My Thoughts On The Book
Chocolat is a really sweet and heartwarming book and it touches upon several themes, like tolerance, letting go/moving on and classism. The "bad" thing about it, is that there is a fair chance you might end up craving chocolate while reading it.

By the way, here's a trailer for the movie adaption.


Grand Finale; 12 Days of Fantasy for Christmas

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

It's the Grand Finale for
12 Days of Fantasy for Christmas

We hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse into books from these 12 fantasy authors! If you missed any of the stops, you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below. And don't forget to enter the awesome Fire Tablet and ebook giveaway, if you haven't already...

November 30th: Launch

Partial Excerpt (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

He was real.

And he was gorgeous.

I straightened and walked toward him, but the closer I got, the more I realized that he wasn’t quite the guy from my dreams. I shook my head, unable to make sense of it. He had the same tall, muscular build. The same copper skin and dark eyes. The braid running down his back was exactly the same as the one I’d seen in my dreams.

But his face was slightly different. Younger with higher cheekbones.

Those eyes, though.

December 2nd: W.R. Gingell - Excerpt

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Participating Blogs:


ebook SALE for 99¢ through December 13th

Partial Excerpt (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

Poly was obliged to dissuade her hair from clasping Luck to her side before he could disentangle his arms, by which time she was feeling hot and bothered and misused.

“Don’t look at me like that,” said Luck, his eyes very green. “I don’t particularly like being co-joined to you, either.”

Poly, who hadn’t thought she was looking in any specific way, blushed.

Taking unfair advantage of her confusion, he added: “I thought princesses were meant to take lessons in charm and deportment.”

December 3rd: Nikki Jefford - Guest Post

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Partial Guest Post (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

Wolf Hollow – A Holiday Playlist

Civilization might have fallen, but that doesn’t mean the shifters in Wolf Hollow don’t know how to celebrate! Usually it’s all about full moons and claiming ceremonies. While there isn’t electricity, they have their drums for music making and dancing.

Here’s a playlist of their favorite holiday tunes to beat out on the drums...

December 4th: K. D. Jones - Excerpt

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Participating Blogs:


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ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME

Partial Excerpt (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

A shadow stepped forward; a soft orange glow lit up a handsomely chiseled face with hard eyes.

Her brows steepened as she gazed upon the huntsman. “What are you doing here?”

His eyes were hungry. And very black.

“You are beautiful, even in rags,” he said, taking a step forward and eyeing her up and down. “What a waste.”

December 5th: M. L. LeGette - Excerpt

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Participating Blogs:


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Partial Excerpt (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

Dawn was steadily creeping over the rooftops of the houses as they walked. Toad glanced at her. She was scrawny and her yellow-blonde hair was long and braided, wispy, brittle ends poking out at odd places. She was as plain as a broom with her second-hand clothes. He had been surprised to discover her to be so drab, what with her owning a Spit-Fire (they were common, but still costly) and being such a fluent reader. Then again, Wilson could read so that didn’t say much.

December 6th: Belle Malory - Excerpt

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Find The Twelfth Keeper Series on Amazon

Partial Excerpt (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

Maybe their souls really were here together. Somehow, some way—but that couldn’t be possible. She shook herself, trying to shake away the feeling. Believing this was all real would only drive her further down the road to insanity. She was already having trouble getting a grip on reality as it was. She needed to stay grounded. Rational. Outside of here, she had a life to live. Believing in the reality of this Phoenix would make her want to give all that up.

“What are you thinking about?” Phoenix joined her by the edge of the pool and looked up at the skylights.

Telling him the truth would only ruin the moment. “I’m thinking about how we should spend our time here.”

December 7th: Melissa McShane - Guest Post

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Partial Guest Post (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

The Making of Willow North

Willow North, the main character of Pretender to the Crown, was never meant to be anything but a throwaway line. Background: my series The Crown of Tremontane was written out of order, with the third book, Agent of the Crown, written first. In that book, the main character, a princess and a spy, mentions Willow in passing, saying she always felt sorry for her because it was such a frivolous name. That was it—Willow was just a bud on the North family tree, a passing joke to give my spy princess depth.

December 8th: Sara C. Roethle - Excerpt

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Or grab the trilogy on Amazon.

Partial Excerpt (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

Noticing my distraction, Allison took a break from her monologue to turn and follow my gaze. “Who’s the hunk?”

“That creep has been staring over here since we sat down,” I grumbled.

Allison smirked. “He's hot, maybe you should go teach him some manners.”

I raised an eyebrow at her comment. “I will never understand your taste in men. He looks like an overly-primped jerk.”

Allison raised both of her eyebrows in surprise. “My Xoe, you sure are feeling judgy today. That's supposed to be my job.” She rose from her seat and looked over at Creepy Guy.

Realizing her intent, I reached for her arm and tried to pull her back down. “No way Al,” I chided. “Don't even think about it.”

December 9th: R.K. Ryals - Excerpt

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Partial Excerpt (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

"Light a mage-fire!” the red coated man ordered.

I was screaming now, the sound shrill. The other men looked at their captain with wide eyes.

“And risk the trees?” a young soldier asked. The older man's gaze moved to the private, and the boy shifted uncomfortably.

“The trees will not burn. Light a fire.” The captain's voice was low and commanding with a threatening undercurrent no one seemed willing to test. 

A hand was over my mouth now, and I looked up wildly only to find myself peering into Jarvis' youthful face. 

“Quiet, miss. They'll only burn you as well,” the boy whispered against my ear. Even at thirteen, the boy was the same height as me, and he was strong. I fought him desperately, but he didn't loosen his hold. “You've always been nice to me, miss. Please,” he begged.

December 10th: Jennifer Silverwood - Trailer & Excerpt

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Participating Blogs:
TheHufflepuffNerdette
The Books You Read


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Partial Excerpt (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

The beast’s life had been forfeit the hour the Prince locked her in the dungeon.

She often dreamed of glittering gems beneath a canopy of starlight and soft silks against satin skin. A perfect wolf moon gleamed in the glass skylight above so silvery beams blended together with the hazy glow of a dozen candelabrum. Joy filled her every step as they danced together, her hand in his, smile lines about his perfect silver eyes. He was like the moonlight and she filled with all the warmth of the sun. His words blurred together in her memory, full of promise and hope until her light died. It was the last moment of her life she could remember and though she could not explain how she knew this, the moment her dreams died.

All dreams die in the damp dim of the dungeon of Castle Bitterhelm.

December 11th: Melissa Wright - Excerpt & Chimera Generator

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Participating Blogs:
Becky on Books
SilverWoodSketches


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Partial Excerpt/Guest Post (read the entirety here or on one of the participating blogs):

What Sort of Monster Are You?

QUEEN OF IRON AND BLOOD, book two in the Shattered Realms series, takes place in a world of monsters. Check out the exclusive excerpt below, and use the Chimera Generator to create your own!

A figure waited on the ledge above him, silent, dark wings still. Hunter could feel her though, the ancient energy recharged like the rest of his world. “I cannot leave them sleeping,” he told her. “The risk is too great.” If Malkyn killed Hunter, if he were not able to return, these new Iron Bound would never be awakened. It would be an eternal wasting away, a thousand-year massacre.

December 12th: Morgan Wylie - Guest Post

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

My Favourite... Christmas Movie

It's Wednesday again, which means it's time for yet another My Favourite... post, thanks to Maureen's Books and the theme of the week was Christmas movie.


Some might laugh at me a bit for this, but my favourite Christmas movie is Three Wishes for Cinderella (or "Tři oříšky pro Popelku"). I know it's old, but it has been aired in Norway on Christmas Eve since I was a little kid, so it is in a sense a tradition to see it. You have also no idea how happy I was when I found out that it's possible to buy a replica of the pink hooded cloak on Etsy (a subtle hint for a Christmas gift, btw).


Book Tour; The Happiness Pact by Liz Flaherty

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
The Happiness Pact
By Liz Flaherty

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops
you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below:

Launch - Note from the Author

Thank you so much for joining me on the tour for THE HAPPINESS PACT. I am embarrassingly excited about and proud of this book. 

Born twenty-seven minutes apart in the same hospital, Tucker and Libby are each other’s first roommates and lifelong best friends. At their thirty-fourth birthday party, Tucker admits that it’s time—he’s ready to settle down with a wife, some kids, and a four-bedroom, two-bath house. Libby’s a little horrified by that, since her wish is for adventure without encumbrance. They decide to devote six months to helping each other fulfill their dreams, and THE HAPPINESS PACT is born.

—Liz


Seventeen and a half years ago, on prom night, she’d been in an automobile accident that killed three people and forever changed the lives of the other nine in the church van they’d used for transport. The losses had caused ripples in the small community of Lake Miniagua that could still be felt all this time later. The wreck had come almost exactly a year after Libby’s mother’s death from cancer, and a year before her father’s suicide. 

Everything had changed with that painful string of events, naturally enough, but she’d made a life for herself in its aftermath. Although that life was mostly uneventful, she never lost the feeling that any minute now, the other shoe would drop. 


"I loved this book. It has a lot of things going on in the story. I could relate to many of the issues the characters experienced.

The characters are well-developed and I enjoyed getting to know them all and it was easy to feel their emotions. . . .

I would highly recommend this book to other readers."

- Vickie

"This is a steady moving, well-written story. . . .

I enjoyed the writing skill of the author in masking strong language, keeping the read's interest and in creating the characters , along with scenes, which draws the reader "into" the tale.

The only thing I found unsettling was it was slightly dragged out, yet done so very well."

- LAWonder10

Paulette's Papers - Guest Post

I think it was a pact. Between Louisa May Alcott, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Kate Douglas Wiggin, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and a whole host of other writers who wrote exclusively for young people. I think they wanted to fill gaps in lives, incite laughter where there wasn’t enough, and provide a psychological hankie to dry tears no one else knew were being shed.

I am still happy when I’m reading.

In The Happiness Pact, Libby and Tucker are best friends from the time they were born twenty-seven minutes apart in the same hospital. They fill in the gaps, laugh together long and loud, and ease each other’s pain as they grow up. On their thirty-fourth birthdays, however, when they would have thought they’d learned all the words in each other’s life books, they find out just how wrong they were. Libby wants adventure and Tucker wants a family.

How they find their answers, and make their dreams come true, is what The Happiness Pact is about. I hope you like their story. I hope reading it makes you happy.


“Do you want to take Jack some coffee?”

But Tucker didn’t answer her. His attention had already strayed. He went to greet Marie with a hug, seeming not to be in a hurry anymore. Libby shook her head, ignoring a ribbon of sadness the couple’s seemingly mutual attraction created at the back of her mind. She liked being single, always had, but sometimes it would be nice if someone looked at her the way Tuck was looking at Marie.


I loved writing this book. Tucker is gorgeous—he’s also a klutz. Libby is so ordinary that she fears wearing brown will make her disappear altogether. They made my heart ache, but even before they started down the path of “more,” I loved their relationship.

And I think more is the wrong word. Because there is nothing more or better than friendship. And there’s nothing deeper than the friendship between two people who love each other. While it’s wonderful and desirable to have friends who aren’t lovers, who would want a lover who wasn’t also a friend? I think that’s why, when writers talk about tropes and which ones are our favorites, I jump right onto the friends-to-lovers train.

Heidi Reads... - Excerpt

He blinked again. “You have very pretty eyes. Did you know that?”

She rolled them. At least, she was fairly certain she did. They didn’t seem to be stopping quite where she wanted them to. “They’re battleship gray.”

“No.” He leaned closer to stare into them. “They have little blue sparkles around the edges of—what is it you call the colored part?”

“I call it Iris in my right eye and Georgina in my left. And there isn’t any blue there, unless bourbon and Mollie’s secret ingredient interfere with your vision. Which could well be,” she conceded and peered into their mugs. “These are empty.”

Remembrancy - Review

"I love stories in the friends to more trope. Know what’s even better? BFFs who have been friends since birth who fall in love with each other, and Liz Flaherty hits it out of the park with The Happiness Pact."


“You won’t believe me.”

“Try me.”

He shrugged. “Okay. But I’ve never told anyone this.” He raised a peremptory finger. “Don’t laugh, either. You know how easily I cry.”

She snorted. She could count on one hand the times she’d seen him cry, not counting when they were in the same room in nearby Sawyer Hospital’s newborn nursery—and anything she said about that would be pure conjecture. The last time had been at Arlie and Jack’s impromptu engagement party only a few days before. Libby had been the one who brought him to tears, and she’d loved it. “Let’s hear it, big boy. Your secret will be safe with me.”

After clearing his throat, finishing his coffee and clearing his throat again, he said, “I want to get married. I want to have a kid. I want to buy a house that’s just a house—you know, four bedrooms, two baths and a basketball hoop in the driveway. With a garage that’s too full of sports equipment and garden tools to get the cars in it.”


"The Happiness Pact by Liz Flaherty is romantic and swoony and sassy and sweet. Tucker and Libby may not think they have any chemistry, but they do! I loved their shared moments, their shared memories, and their shared kisses.

A great read with a great message!"

I Am A Reader - Guest Post

Since the title of my book is The Happiness Pact, my mind has gone to all things happy, including the books I’ve read. Choosing a few is a little like picking a favorite child, but I’m going for ten in no particular order. We’ll see how it works out. Let me know how alike—or how drastically different!—our favorites are.


"Huge Dynamite 5 Stars for The Happiness Pact by Liz Flaherty. This was the first book I've read by Ms. Flaherty and I absolutely loved it! Such a wonderfully sweet, heart-warming tale."


He had been her friend her whole life. When no one asked her to dance in the seventh grade, he had—and he’d seen to it his friends followed suit. When she’d had her appendix removed during freshman year, he’d brought her homework and helped her do it. Her mother died when she was fifteen, and he’d supported her through all the stages of grief—over and over again—until she could bear it. Her father’s suicide a few years later had thrown her right back into the maelstrom of mourning, and Tucker had been there for her again even though life had dealt him some hurts of his own.
He’d bought her the telescope that time. “See the stars?” he’d said. “They’re still there. Wish on them if you want, but they’re their own reward. No matter what happens, the stars will guide you to a safe place. You’ll be able to see Venus up close and talk to her whenever you like.” He’d never laughed at her assertion that Venus was indeed her guardian planet—and feminine in the bargain.


"The Happiness Pact is an enjoyable romance from Liz Flaherty. . . .

The Happiness Pact pretty much has Hallmark movie (or series!) written all over it (they would, of course, take out the depression thread, or tone it down). It's an enjoyable read, and I wouldn't hesitate to return to this world that Flaherty has created."


When Tucker and Libby go looking for happiness in The Happiness Pact, they find it in unexpected places, such as helping a calf be born in a barn during a blizzard.

Although that wouldn’t be my first choice for how to spend a romantic evening, I do have a soft spot for the unexpected. For instance, I grew up on a small farm in the middle of the cornfields of Central Indiana. All I wanted was to move to a city and write books...


"My favorite part was when Libby calls Tucker. She's in a bad place and doesn't say anything when he picks up. His answer? "Oh, hi. I'll be right there." That right there is friendship. And that right there? That's love.

I enjoyed this book although there were some slow parts. The characters were great and the ending was perfect."


“Hey, if I know anything, it’s adventure. That’s why when Jack and I divided up the CEO job at Llewellyn’s Lures, I got all the travel parts. Even when I headquartered at the Tennessee plant, I traveled to Michigan at least a half dozen times a year. That meant I stopped at all points in between just in case I’d missed something along the way.”

“I can’t travel. I can’t afford it, for one thing, and I have the tearoom, for another—which I’m going to enlarge this year by making the carriage house into a smallish event center. I need my adventures to be of the cheap, two-hour variety.”

“You have Sundays and Mondays off and an assistant manager who’d love to have some time in there without her micromanaging boss.”


"The happiness pact by liz Flaherty is a great read about friends who become more. . . . This book is so amazing. It touches on some very real emotional issues that may hit a little to close to home for some. I am so glad I got the opportunity to read this one. I can not wait for more from Liz Flaherty."


Since I’m not much of a movie person—other than Hallmark Christmas movies, which could be several blogs unto themselves—a friend suggested a list of the movies that made me smile. The catch is, #One, I’m not a movie watcher and #Two, in order to be entered to win a Christmas stocking with a book in it, you need to post with a movie that makes you happy. Or more than one will be fine, too, but just one entry. I’m sorry, but the drawing will be US only, although if the name selected is from outside the country, I’ll be happy to send a download.

So, here’s my list. In no particular order, because I’m way too linear as it is—I’m going to be a little wild and crazy.

And don't forget to enter the giveaway below, if you haven't already...

The Happiness Pact
by Liz Flaherty
Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
December 1st 2017 by Harlequin Heartwarming

The fine line between BFF and happily-ever-after…

Tucker Llewellyn and Libby Worth—strictly platonic!—realize they’re each at a crossroads. Tucker is successful, but he wants a wife and kids: the whole package. Libby knows that small-town life has her set in her ways; the tearoom owner needs to get out more.

So they form a pact: Libby will play matchmaker and Tucker will lead her on the adventure she desperately needs. But the electricity Libby feels when they shake on it should be a warning sign. Soon the matchmaking mishaps pile up, and a personal crisis tests Libby’s limits. Will Tucker be there for her as a best friend…or something more?


About the Author


Liz Flaherty was a little nervous about retiring from her day job, but making quilts, more family time, traveling at the mere mention of “why don’t we go...” and becoming a Harlequin Heartwarming author have made the past years more fun and exciting than she could ever have imagined.

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Tour Giveaway


5 winners will receive a signed copy of EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE and a Christmas stocking
US only
Ends December 13th