Five Romance Book/Series recommendations this holidays

If you are like me and devour a well written romance story, I would love to share ten of the books (or first book in a series) I have recently read that will help keep you warm (or steamy) this holiday season.  Not all of them are Christmas stories and they are in no particular order - nor are they all recent publications - some I received ARC copies of, some are Kindle Unlimited and some I purchased...  (Amazon links contain my referral code)

This is a fabulous series focusing on a fictional NHL team - one of the things I love is that the series focuses on mature players (so far) and all of the characters are thirty or older - which makes reading this series easier for this thirty plus year old lady...   Book one features Scott and Becca - and the chance to reunite after years apart.  What I love in this author's style is she doesn't use a ton of flashbacks and reminisces to prop up the story - she keeps their relationship current and while they talk through old hurts, they don't dwell on them...  Once you've met Scott and Becca, and been introduced to their friends, you won't be able to resist the other three novels currently available - I promise!  (Series purchased)

From the Blurb: What will it take for her to Just Say Yes?

Scott Taylor has the perfect life. He gets to fulfill his dream playing professional hockey, has a loving family, and a tight group of friends. But the one thing missing in his life is a partner to come home to. He knows exactly who he wants to fill that position– the only woman he has ever loved. The one who got away, who constantly consumes his every thought. What it would take to get her to Just Say Yes to a second chance?

Becca Phillips is an independent woman who has made her career as an ER nurse a priority in her life. She has a loving family and a best friend by her side, but she can’t seem to get over her first love, Scott. Insecurities led her to break up with him years ago when he started climbing the ranks in professional hockey and, for eight years, Becca has avoided Scott when he returns home each summer. Can she overcome her fears and allow love back into her life? All she has to do is Just Say Yes to the one and only man she has ever loved.

This is a series that I started this past summer and the entire series is free on Kindle Unlimited!  I just read the fourth and final book recently and it made me want to go back and read the entire series again!  What I love is that while the series focuses on The King family, it is not all written in one voice - three different authors voice each member of the family - starting and ending with one of my favourite authors, Molly O'Keefe writing as M. O'Keefe!  I immediately fell in love with and empathized with the heroine, Veronica (Ronnie) as she struggles with the death of her father, supporting her sisters and dealing with her history and current situation with Clayton.  This is a truly straightforward HEA story with some smoldering heat that will definitely keep you warm on a cold winter's night.  Molly's writing style always draws me into the world she creates within seconds - making me glad she is up first in the line up for this series that also features S. Doyle and Julie Kriss!

From the Blurb: The cruel and beautiful man who ruined my life has everything he wants—everything except me. 

Five years ago, Clayton Rorick loved me. Or so I thought. Turned out he only wanted to get his hands on my daddy’s company. Heartbroken, I ran away with nothing but the clothes on my back. Like a twisted Cinderella. When my father dies, leaving my sisters in a desperate situation, it’s up to me to help them. 

I’ll have to beg the man who broke my heart to save us. 

But Clayton hasn’t forgotten me and what he wants in exchange for his help is…my body, my heart and my soul. 

Time to blog .... catching up!

Believe it or not, I am back - at least for a while..  there have been so many changes in our lives since I last blogged, but I am now finding time with my thoughts in the strangest place - at work (more about that in a little while) and forces (like the packages from long forgotten partners that arrived on my doorstep recently) and my own searching for recipes that I published for the holidays has led me back to the blog.

I am going to just see where things take me - no promises of what will happen, how many posts per week or even when I'll be posting...

So where have we been?

Last year I fell into what became a full-time job that I had anticipated to be part-time.  I worked at a local grocery chain as a Customer Service Associate and evening bookkeeper.  I had gone in with the intention of working 18-24 hours per week - and I honestly don't think that ever happened...   It was a great re-entry into the workforce after so many years at home and it taught me that our little family could handle the stress of me working more hours than we thought... but it didn't pay overly well and the stress of some of the situations made me crazy, so this past August, I looked for another new job and ended up in a place Wayne always thought I'd excel at but didn't want to cross into his territory - hospitality!

For the past 5 months I've been having a blast as a Concierge at The Sanctuary, a 5 Star/5 Diamond property that is part of Kiawah Island Golf Resort!  It's an amazing place to work and it's been fun learning the ins and outs of the entire property - our golf courses, tennis courts, recreation, hotel, restaurants... and helping people connect with my favorite adopted city...

Yesterday, I got to bring the boys to work to do cookie decorating and take a wander around... they're getting to be so big!  Liam is in 5th grade now so we are actively searching for the right middle school for him... Erik is already in second grade and is growing in leaps and bounds - so much that other than being about 6 inches shorter, and rolling up his pant legs, the boys are sharing clothes...

Wayne is taking his turn at being Super Dad for a while - with me working full time, so much more of the parenting, cooking and other chores are falling on his already busy shoulders... he's still Chair of the Hospitality Department and is hopefully on his way to earning the rank of Full Professor this year, moving up from Associate.  He was also my plus one at our holiday Christmas party and for the first time in I don't know how long, was the one being introduced to everyone - it felt strange to be in a social situation where I knew more people than him (although we did run into several people who knew him instead of me - including one of the young ladies who was helping with the service and was one of his current students)

Robyn is a JUNIOR at C of C!  Time is moving way too quickly and she is on pace to graduate next year from College - I am not old enough to have an almost college graduate :)  She is home less and less, but that's a good thing as she becomes more independent. 

We are looking forward to the holidays - all four of them are looking forward to time off from school - and I am happily planning a little get away for us to Florida between Christmas and New Years!

What have you been up to?  What are your holiday plans?  Is anyone still out there?

More to come from me, I promise ...



Review: Wait for It by M. O'Keefe

I have reviewed M. O'Keefe's work many times on the blog, but I think this book has to rate as one of my favorite reads.  When I decided over the past few days to rekindle the blog, this was the first book out of probably 50 I've read in the past few months that I wanted to tell you about!

From the Publisher:

In a blistering novel of raw emotion and desire, a tormented woman teaches an alpha male that money can’t fix everything . . . but love can.

Tiffany: After fighting for a new life, I don’t want to play the victim anymore. However, with three kids to raise, I’m getting desperate enough to make a deal with the devil. My estranged brother-in-law, Blake, says he just wants to help, but he’s been trouble since I met him. I don’t know if I can believe this kinder, gentler Blake, and there’s a friction between us that has turned into the sweetest chemistry. He could be my salvation . . . or my downfall.

Blake: I haven’t always had Tiffany’s best interests at heart but I’m ready to make up for my sins. Besides, I can’t help admiring her: The girl’s a genuine survivor, tough and lean, with eyes of steel. But the more I get to know Tiffany, the more I want her. Every inch of her. Which means I’m about to make a bad situation a hell of a lot worse.

Life and other roadblocks...

I am sure you are tired of getting emails from Acting Balanced with a new update saying Heather is trying to blog again... and you think it is probably going to say something like I am recommitting to writing and getting things done...  

and in a way you are right... since it has been several months since I even thought about opening up a new page in my blog and just typing away... so much has happened since November - I had my first incredibly busy season in retail - working for a local gift shop - that was just crazy and insane... while balancing Wayne's ever expanding job duties, the kids busy lives and whatever else life threw at me...  and then more recently the demise of said local gift shop - because the owner stopped paying our vendors in December and all of that wonderful holiday season money was never distributed - but that is another story for another day and really not mine to tell...

The last few weeks have been spent intermittently helping some fabulous people who stepped in to make sure that the dissemination of the store was coordinated, by lending my expertise and really my knowledge of who was who and what was what in the store.  That too has now come to an end... so I am taking some time out to breathe and get my house in order before the kids finish school in just a few short months...

I am not looking for a new job for that reason and I find myself with some time and a need to share my story and re-connect with blogging friends :)

I hope some of you are still out there and are still blogging - I am planning to dedicate some time to reading and commenting on blogs I have followed and also take some time to find new and refreshing content!

I have kept up with my reading during my long absenses and have some great authors and books to share with you if you are looking for romance reads :)

I am also still with Pampered Chef and have recently taken up with Thirty-One, so expect some shameless plugs in that regard.

I hope all of you are well!


Coincidences and Happenstance....

The stars align every once in a while and I think back to the time when I was blogging regularly and enjoying every minute of it.  Life has taken several twists and turns since then - two more regularly paying gigs have overtaken some of my time, along with having three active kids at varying stages of their busy lives... and finally having Wayne in a position where he is actually working two and a half jobs in less time than he had to work one just 18 months ago... and you are left with a dirth of time and mental resources to blog regularly...

but I didn't deactivate the blog - and I didn't stop paying for my domain, simply because I wasn't ready to let my passion for reading, writing and everything but arithmetic fall by the wayside...

and today, in a series of several coincidences (that are never really coincidences of course), a path was laid wherein I have the time, the drive and something that I want to say -- all at the same time :)

So what is it that I wanted to tell all one or two of you who may still receive this in their newsfeed or via email?

No, I won't be blogging regularly - heck I may never blog again after the posts I get scheduled tonight, but for now, I want to let you know that I will have a book/author review, some yummy holiday homemade whipped cream recipes and potentially a few other things to say over the next few hours - which will post as the next few day!

In closing, so far - I want to wish you all a happy belated Thanksgiving and get the jump on saying Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza to all those who will be celebrating!

Blog what you love...

I still remember the day when I got my first email from a PR rep saying that they'd found my blog and thought it would be a great fit for their authors... would I be willing to do a review if they sent me a review book?  

Wow - someone thought that I was an influencer... they thought that my readers might be interested in what I had to say about their book... and I got a freebie in exchange... heck yes!  No downside... free stuff and a reason/focus for a blog post that I didn't have to come up with on my own... so I got the book, read it and reviewed it here: and that started me on a path that had me scouring sites to find other PR companies, more places to get freebies and more reviews...

It was also the beginning of the end for a lot of the reasons I went into blogging in the first place... to have a place to record memories, share family stories and carve out a little of me...

I still love reading, so I will still be posting book reviews and book teasers once a week, but I am going to try to get back to blogging for me, not the freebies...

With that said, watch for my top three reads for this week, coming Friday!


It's been a while...

Hi everyone;

I don't know why the mood is striking now, but I am sitting in Starbucks recovering from two weeks at home with the kids, the holidays and more and the thought struck me that I should be writing down a few things....

Like when I started this blog originally, Facebook doesn't seem to be the place to share this much, so for those of you who are still subscribed in some way, or just the blogiverse in general, I am adding a potential overshare warning here since it's been quite some time since I typed out a blog post...

The first thing I guess I should do is apologize ... like many others before me, my blog just up and stopped one day with little rhyme, reason or warning... it wasn't that any major catastrophe happened, it actually crept up slowly - going from posting multiple times a day, down to once a day, then slowing to a few times a week... and finally one day I didn't open the laptop to write anything - and it stayed closed for a week... then two ... and life took over and I only felt small twinges of regret at missed opportunities and lost friendships when my blogging friends posted new and wonderful things about where their blogs were going...

May and June were incredibly busy months - Wayne was gone for several weeks to China - first with his MBA students and then with a group of undergrads he met up with and toured around all over - that left me single-parenting until we headed for our annual pilgrimage to Canada... but now that I write, I think my love of blogging died before that... when one of my heroes, my grandmother passed away in January of last year.

She was the one who always told me I should be a writer... and when she wasn't there to read and encourage me anymore, some of the light went out of blogging... sure, I kept going for a while, but it was mostly book reviews and shared content - it was as if my personal voice was silenced...

I threw my energy into organizing a tea party in her honor, and hugging my family more... and writing slipped further and further into the background...

Other things have filled some of the void- I started selling Pampered Chef,  and Wayne and I are trying to find more date nights (and date lunches), the kids are busier than ever too... but I'll save some of that for future posts...

because slowly, surely, as the anniversary of her death approaches I am finding that my fingers are itching to share and whether anyone else is out there reading, I know that she'll find a way to see every word.


Check out the latest from Tawdra Kandle - The Path!


Summer's almost over, but there's still time for #OneLastBeachRead. And you're in luck because the perfect way to end the summer is now live and available everywhere!


Abby Donavan came to the small beach community of Crystal Cove to start over. After a painful affair broke her heart and derailed her burgeoning career, taking over management for the just-opened bed-and-breakfast was the safe choice. In this sleepy town, Abby figured she could bury her memories and forget the pain.

ipadrt_823x978When the chance to have her own hotel falls into her lap, though, she can’t resist the temptation. Making the old Riverside Inn into the showplace she’s always dreamed of running offers the second chance she never expected.

Abby didn’t expect another kind of second chance to land on her doorstep at the same time. Ryland Kent wants to help her bring the Riverside back to life, and his passion for restoration is irresistible. But as much as she wants to ignore it, she can’t help seeing another spark in his eyes . . . one that offers to reignite her own flame.

Sometimes the path to a happily-ever-after is anything but smooth.

Buy it now!

iBooks/Amazon/All Romance Ebooks/Nook/Google Play/Kobo/Smashwords

And join us here today at the HUGE release party, featuring both Tawdra and author Olivia Hardin!

[playlist type="video" ids="2758"]

If you haven't read the first two Crystal Cove Romances . . . now is the perfect time.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00020]THE POSSE is free for a limited time only!

iBooks/Amazon/Google Play/Nook/Kobo

"It is rare for characters to stay with me for weeks or months, but these are etched in my mind and heart." Amazon review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00020]And don't miss THE PLAN. Emmy and Cooper's story has both sizzle and heart.

iBooks/Amazon/Nook/Google Play/Kobo

"Real. That's all I can feel for this story. Real. Real life. Real love. Real emotion. Real characters. They stick with you from the first book, to this second one in the series." Amazon review

TK03Tawdra Kandle writes romance, in just about all its forms. She loves unlikely pairings, strong women, sexy guys, hot love scenes and just enough conflict to make it interesting. Her books include YA paranormal romance, NA paranormal and contemporary romance, and adult contemporary and paramystery romance. She lives in central Florida with a husband, kids, sweet pup and too many cats. And yeah, she rocks purple hair.

Follow Tawdra: Facebook/Twitter/Tsu/Pinterest/Instagram/Website/Newsletter/Amazon

Book Spotlight and Exerpt: No Better Man by Sara Richardson

Summer is the time to chill out and grab a great romance to read by the pool and I thought that some of you might just get a kick out of No Better Man by Sara Richardson -  I know that I did when I had a chance to read an ARC sneak peek!  For me, this was a quick read that brought a freshness to the storyline and fun characters to the forefront.  Not only do you have a strong heroine in Avery King, and a sexy, strong cowboy in Bryce Walker, you also have Moose!  Moose stole many scenes for me and helped bring the characters true nature to the forefront!  Please check out the excerpt below and find the appropriate buy link!

A Daring Proposition 
When it comes to business, Avery King always comes out on top. So after a very public breakup, work is the perfect excuse to flee the Windy City for the gentle breezes of Aspen, Colorado. Her mission: acquire the land of a rundown mountain ranch. Avery expects an easy win . . . until she meets the rugged and irresistible rancher who won't give up his property without a fight. Bryce Walker is stunned by the stubborn beauty determined to get what she wants. But what she wants is his last connection to the life he used to have. Bryce has plans to return the ranch to its former glory and no way will he sell his family home. Yet the more time he spends with Avery, the more her sweet touch makes him forget his painful memories. Now Bryce must decide whether living in the past is worth losing his future . . .


Ah, hell. Not this. What was it with women, anyway? Why’d they have this burning desire to get to the bottom of absolutely every feeling they had? Why couldn’t they sit in silence, enjoy the scenery? “I don’t know you well enough to be upset with you,” he finally said, increasing his pressure on the gas pedal. The cops were notorious for pulling over speeders on this section through town, but tonight he was willing to risk it.
“Look.” Avery’s hands sliced the air in front of her. “I understand why you don’t want to sell. Trust me. I get it.”
Ha. Trust her. He didn’t trust her any more than he trusted her father. At the end of the day, she worked for the infamous Edward King. She might be smokin’ hot and nice, and, like she insisted, a good person, but she still had a job to do. He wouldn’t forget that.
Instead of answering, he leaned over and flicked on the radio. Nothing like a little Brad Paisley to tune out a woman.
Avery shot him a fiery look, topaz eyes blazing, lips thinned into a warning that tempted him to test her.
That didn’t help things. She looked even better when she got mad. His grip on the wheel tightened until his knuckles ached. Mom was right. He had to get out more. Start dating again. Any woman besides Avery King…
She hunched forward and fiddled with the radio until he could hardly hear Paisley. Fine. That was fine. Five more minutes and they’d be back at the ranch anyway. He’d be free of her.
“You need to listen to me, Bryce. Please.” She launched into yet another impassioned monologue about how selling the ranch could change his life.
Yeah, well. He’d had enough changes in his life over the last few years. So sue him if he wasn’t interested. She didn’t seem to pick up on his lack of concentration, though. She went on and on until he pulled the truck into the driveway and parked in front of the office.
“Are you listening to me?” She leaned over the console between them and got in his face, close enough that he could smell oranges, that he could trace the sexy curve of her upper lip with his tongue if he’d wanted to.
“Have you heard anything I’ve said?”
The throb started again, deep in his chest, invading his body until it occupied all of him.
“Seriously, Bryce this is—”
Screw it. He cupped his hand around the back of her head and roughly brought her lips to his, totally unprepared for the impact it would have. Shock waves coursed through him, unleashing a craving stronger than he’d ever felt.
Avery squeaked in surprise but he didn’t let up. Need thundered through him and it was a helluva lot louder than the logic he’d spent the last several hours beating into his thick skull. Her lips were soft and moist and everything he’d hungered for during the last three lonely years. He gentled a hand up into her hair. It felt like silk against his skin.
A small moan purred in her throat and her upper body relaxed, lips melding to his in a pulsating heat. She ran her hands up his chest, and that was all he needed. He bent forward, halfway over the console, gathering her closer, kissing her harder, deeper. If it wasn’t for that console, he’d pull her right into his lap…
“Wow. Just…wow,” she whispered against his lips.
He answered by parting her lips with his tongue. There. That’d take care of her chatting problem.
Avery gasped a sharp intake of air, her chest rising against his.
Taking it as an invitation, he commanded her with his lips, opening and closing them in a sensual rhythm. A dull ache resounded in his chest. God, he’d forgotten the depth of a kiss…
He shifted to get a better angle, more access, but that console…
She pulled back with a small smile, lips grazing his in a tease, then she pressed in again and proved that she could make out as well as she could talk.
A scratching sound scraped the window. Moose whined, then barked.
Great timing, as usual.

About Sara Richardson
Sara Richardson grew up chasing adventure in Colorado's rugged mountains. She's climbed to the top of a 14,000-foot peak at midnight, swam through Class IV rapids, completed her wilderness first-aid certification, and spent seven days at a time tromping through the wilderness with a thirty-pound backpack strapped to her shoulders. 
Eventually, Sara did the responsible thing and got an education in writing and journalism. After a brief stint in the corporate writing world, she stopped ignoring the voices in her head and started writing fiction. Now, she uses her experience as a mountain adventure guide to write stories that incorporate adventure with romance. Still indulging her adventurous spirit, Sara lives and plays in Colorado with her saint of a husband and two young sons.

Sara’s SM
Buy links

You can also enter this great rafflecopter giveaway of paperback copies of No Better Man (not hosted by Acting Balanced)
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Bull Riding, Babies and Romance.. Oh My - Check out the latest from Harlequin Romance!

As a Canadian ex-pat living in the US, I am hyper aware of finding our national symbol when I am out and about (and yes I put that in there for all of you Americans thinking that I am saying oot and aboot...) and it's even more fun when the symbolism comes in as nice a package as one of the latest releases from Harlequin Romance - one of four revived titles by one of my favorite authors, Tina Leonard.

Check out Zane Lambert, who lives in Alberta, Canada but is originally from Manitoba and is on the cover of the fourth book in the re-released series, available only at Walmart!

Harlequin Pro Bull Riders stories are heartwarming contemporary tales of everyday women finding love in the arms of the quintessential American icon, wrapped up in manliness and romance. The stories showcase the charm of small-town America and the ruggedness of Western locales and regularly feature Western characters as protagonists. 

Each book contains exclusive content, including biographies, interviews, photos, signed reader letters from the riders and $20 of value-added coupons for select PBR events, fan club membership and upcoming Harlequin titles.

You can check out the first chapter of all four titles and print coupons to save $1.00 each!
·      A Family for the Bull Rider:
·       And of course, The Bull Rider's Twins:

If you are as taken by Zane's photo as I am, you can also check out this video interview that he did recently:

You can also click the graphic below and enter to win a trip to Las Vegas and a VIP package to the PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals: