Monday, August 31, 2015

Author Jodi Thomas’ Ransom Canyon

I’m delighted today to welcome author Jodi Thomas back to Thoughts in Progress so she can tell us about her latest release, RANSOM CANYON (don’t you just love that name) :-)

Here’s a brief synopsis of RANSOM CANYON, the first installment of a six-book series that promises to be fascinating:

        Long ago, four families of ranchers settled along the canyon walls of a bleak Western frontier to forge better lives for future generations. Now, well over a hundred years later, on that same treacherous gorge, their scattered descendants are set to converge once more, ready to face the deadliest test of their lives. Welcome to Crossroads, Texas. From New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes RANSOM CANYON (HQN Books, September 2015, $7.99 U.S./$8.99 CAN.), the first offering in a six-book series featuring enthralling family dramas, rugged heroes and the beautiful Texan landscape.
        Following the deaths of his wife and only child, wealthy and prominent rancher Staten Kirkland swore he would never love again. All that keeps him going are his ranch and the grief he shares with his deceased wife’s best friend, Quinn O’Grady—his rainy-day woman. But after years of shared misery, something suddenly changes with the reclusive Quinn. Wallowing in the past is no longer enough. Now Staten—a man who thought his life was over—must decide if a future exists for him with a woman he’s long known but, until now, never really seen.
        To everyone at his high school, Lucas Reyes seems like a regular kid who likes to keep to himself. But after one harrowing night together, his classmate Lauren Brigman realizes there’s much more to the brave, unassuming ranch hand’s son than anyone suspects. For instance, the quiet and mature Lucas has big plans for his future. But when danger threatens the town from nearby Ransom Canyon, the bright future Lucas envisioned with the girl of his dreams is suddenly very much in doubt.
        After five long years in prison and with nothing left to lose, ex-convict Yancy Grey has come to Crossroads, Texas, looking to take whatever he can by any means necessary. While scoping the community, Yancy takes a job, hoping to blend in with the locals. But before he knows it, he suddenly finds himself caring about the same folks he was planning to rob. So, when Yancy’s crooked past suddenly catches up and presents him with the score of a lifetime, he knows he has a difficult choice to make—between the crook he’s been in order to survive and the man he strives to be in order to truly live…
        Against a landscape as deadly as it is beautiful, the lives of these people are about to intersect in a way that none of them ever imagined. And like their ancestors who settled the land long before them—nothing about Ransom Canyon has changed—they must survive together or die alone…the decision is theirs.

Now join me in giving Jodi a warm welcome as she talks about her writing. Welcome, Jodi.

More than anything else I’ve always thought the people make the stories in books. I love characters who walk off the page and the reader falls a little bit in love as they discover not only passion, but a bond as deep as time. I wrote the RANSOM CANYON series so that everyone could see what the people of West Texas are like. 

I knew I had to open RANSOM CANYON with Staten Kirkland. He is a well-respected rancher who believes he needs to work harder than any hand he hires. He’s strong and honest and broken inside by the death of his only love, his wife. When his son is killed during a storm a few years later, Staten runs to a quiet woman who has been his friend since grade school and his wife’s best friend. Shy Quinn asks nothing up him. She offers understanding amid the storm of his life. 

Their friendship develops into a gentle, loving affair that grows to rock both them with its depth. Staten will have to learn to love again and Quinn will have to open up to someone. The whole town watches the birth of passion and love as Staten stands beside her letting her be strong and quiet Quinn discovers one man’s love can wash away all the pain in her past. Through storms, cattle rustlers, and facing Quinn’s greatest fear, they fight for each other as the whole town stands behind them.

RANSOM CANYON is about the beauty of people and how they interact with one another as friends, families and lovers. And, of course, the winners in life’s game are the people who love the deepest.

Step with me into a small town nestled between huge ranches and small farms. A place where people fight and help one another. A place where love runs deep and forever.

Jodi, thanks for joining us today and sharing this insight into the characters of RANSOM CANYON. These characters do jump off the page at you. Now here’s a bit of background on Jodi.

Author Jodi Thomas
A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Jodi traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable. 

With a degree in family studies, Jodi is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Jodi enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Jodi said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Jodi enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and “checking up” on their two grown sons.

For more information on Jodi, please visit her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Jodi’s visit. I hope to have my review of this fascinating story in a few days. Do you enjoy stories where the characters seem so realistic you think of people you know that fit their traits perfectly?

*This post contains affiliate links.

**NOTE: I will be offline today and tomorrow (possible a few days more) due to computer issues. Hope to be back online as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Taste of Sugar {+ 2 Giveaways}

A Taste of Sugar by Marina Adair - Thoughts in ProgressIt’s a pleasure today to be participating in author Marina Adair’s Release Week Blitz for her new book, A TASTE OF SUGAR, the third installment in her Sugar, Georgia series.

Born and raised in Georgia, this is one series I couldn’t resist. To celebrate the release this week, Marina is sharing an excerpt from the book and I’m sharing my thoughts on the story. To further celebrate, Marina is giving away 3 sets of her Sugar, Georgia series throughout the tour. That means three winners will each receive all three of the books in the series. In addition, visitors to Thoughts in Progress will have an extra chance to win a copy of A TASTE OF SUGAR. Please see the end of the post for more details.

First, here’s a brief synopsis of A TASTE OF SUGAR (August 25, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Sugar, Georgia #3) followed by the excerpt.

A blast from her past…
        Charlotte Holden, Sugar’s favorite pediatrician, knows better than anyone that love only leads to heartbreak. Instead, she’s focused on creating the Grow Clinic, an outpatient center for children. All she has to do now is to host the best Founder’s Day Parade in the history of Sugar, Georgia, to win over a big-city donor. Easy as peach pie. Then sexy Jace McGraw blows back into town and utters those three words every woman dreads: we’re still married.
…leads to tantalizing trouble
        Jace McGraw was making an offer on his dream business in Atlanta when he was told that his wife had some credit issues. Wait, his wife? The annulment went through years ago—or so he thought.  He’d walked away only to keep his troublemaker reputation from ruining her dreams. But now that they have a second chance, Jace offers Charlotte a deal: he’ll grant a discreet divorce in exchange for 30 days and nights of marriage. Because this time he isn’t going to let her go without a fight.

A TASTE OF SUGAR is available to purchase at the following sites: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, and BAM.

Now for the excerpt ………

        “Morning, Dr. Holden,” he said, unfolding himself from the car.
        “You’re late.” Charlotte stood and swished her way down the steps toward him. No good morning, no thanks for coming, just a you’re late as though they had plans, as though he’d disappointed her again.
        “Sorry,” he said coolly, tapping the face of his watch. “Forgot to set it to Charlotte Standard Time.”
        She stopped a few feet from him, and he could see the hesitation in her expression. Hesitation and something else. Something that looked an awful lot like vulnerability. Oh, there was a good portion of irritation and hostility glaring at him through those baby blues, but behind it all was definitely vulnerability. Interesting.
        “You’re the one who said we had to go to Atlanta today.”
        “I believe you told me you were too busy to make the time,” he said, not sure how he was going to handle six hours in an enclosed space with her. Just standing downwind taking in her floral scent was making him hard.
        “I changed my mind.”
        Jace looked at her for a long moment, then laughed. She was serious.
        “Darling, you don’t change your mind. Ever.” Charlotte Holden might be a Southern belle, but her Kevlar wall of stubbornness could rival a Southern granny’s—and having been raised by the most mule-headed granny in the world, that was saying a lot. Oh, he believed that Charlotte had changed her mind, he just didn’t know why. “So what happened with your debutante sisters yesterday that has you desperate enough to call me?”
        “Sugar Peaches,” she corrected. “And since when do you keep up on Sugar gossip?”
        “Since you started calling yourself a Sugar Peach. I mean, weren’t the Peaches your mom’s thing?”
        Charlotte had once confided in him that she moved to Atlanta to escape the pressure of following in her mother’s footsteps. The pageants and parties and social ladder climbing were Babette’s dream for Charlotte. Charlotte’s dream was to save lives—and she was a master at it.
        “Well, it’s my thing now,” she said, and he couldn’t help but notice the resignation in her voice. He wanted to know what else had changed, then realized it didn’t matter anymore. “And that means I have to be back as soon as possible. Founder’s Day is only three weeks off, and I have a lot to do.”
        “Yeah, me too.” He had to get an annulment, convince his buddy to fix Hattie’s car, and secure that loan before Dale pulled his offer.
        “Good, because as the current regent of the Sugar Peaches it falls to me to plan the Founder’s Day Fair, so this trip needs to be a quickie,” she said, her bossy, take-charge tone making him smile.
        “Quickies aren’t really my specialty,” he said. “But who am I to argue with a lady?”
        “Easy and discreet, Jace. The last thing I need right now is to explain this to my parents,” she clarified as though he was slow, as though he didn’t know just how anxious she was to put the past behind them. Which shouldn’t have pissed him off, because that was what he wanted, too. But it did.
        “Easy and discreet? Kind of like our marriage?” he mused.
        She looked at him for a long moment and then slowly shook her head. “Nothing about our marriage was easy, Jace,” she said, and the absolute certainty in her voice made him want to prove her wrong.
        “There was one easy thing between us,” Jace said, stepping into her and closing the distance, trapping her between the car and his body. He reached behind her neck, crushed his mouth to hers, and kissed the hell out of her.
        Only one touch, and she was kissing him back. No hesitation, no second-guessing, just—pow —debutante to seductress. Not interested to tongue down his throat in two seconds flat.
        And holy fucking God, it was perfect. The way she felt, the way she tasted, the way she crawled up his body and demanded more...How had he forgotten this side of her?
        That insane pull between them, which he’d convinced himself didn’t exist, wasn’t only burning a hole through his clothes—and his mission—it also wasn’t one-sided. Which told him that he should a) back the hell up, and b) immediately cancel this field trip they had planned. Before things got crazy.
        But then she made this sexy little sound in the back of her throat—the one that used to drive him batshit crazy, that still drove him batshit crazy—and he was a goner.
        So he deepened the kiss, because why the hell not? Charlotte had her prim and proper hands all over him, and he was certain that this was the best kiss he’d ever had. Hot and needy and raw and so damn desperate it was like driving down the track at three hundred miles per hour with no breaks.
        Then he realized that this was not only the best kiss ever, but probably also their last kiss ever, and he slowly pulled back, tugging her lower lip between his teeth as long as he could until the connection finally broke. And damn, he wished he hadn’t stopped.
        That one second of uncharged air was all Charlotte needed. Sure, she was breathing heavily, and her gaze was dazed and confused. A mirror image of his own. But within a split second her eyes frosted over and that unflinching fortitude was back.
        Not that he was fooled. Jace knew that they had chemistry, remembered how electric they were together, but what had arched between them just now floored him. And it had floored her, too.
        Charlotte cleared her throat. “This changes nothing.”
        Jace lowered his gaze to her hands, which were resting on the buckle of his belt. “Oh, it changes something.”


Marina Adair is a lifelong fan of romance novels. Along with the Sugar series, she is also the author of the St. Helena Vineyard series and the upcoming Shelter Cove series. 

She currently lives in a hundred-year-old log cabin, nestled in the majestic redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains, with her husband and daughter. 

As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive. She also loves to interact with readers and you can visit her website, as well as catch her on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Here’s my take on this fun romance.

A TASTE OF SUGAR by Marina Adair

When an author can make you feel you know the characters and/or the setting, then they have pulled you into their world.

Author Marina Adair does that quite well in A TASTE OF SUGAR. She has not only captured the small town atmosphere, but also the climate and feel of the South. In addition, her characters are realistic, likable and well-developed.

The easy flowing dialect of the characters draws the reader into the conversation. The actions and reactions of those characters feels genuine with laugh-out-loud moments, as well as tender and unpredictable ones.

The premise of reconnecting with a lost love makes this a feel-good story with a touch of steamy. It will capture your heart and make you long for the small town life.

A Taste of Sugar by Marina Adair, Sugar, Georgia series Book #3, Forever, @2015, ISBN: 978-1455528707, Mass Market Paperback, 400 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the publisher as part of the author’s virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

A-Taste-of-Sugar-RWBanner - Thoughts in Progress

Other books in the Sugar, Georgia series:

SUGAR ON TOP by Marina Adair (April 28, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Sugar, Georgia Book #2)

She's sassy and sweet
        The last thing Glory Mann wants is to become chairman of the Miss Peach Pageant in Sugar, Georgia. Spending months hearing nothing but the clinking of pearls and judgment? No thank you! But when Glory is forced to take the rap for a scandal she didn't commit, the judge sentences her to head the committee. Even worse, her co-chairman is rugged, ripped . . . and barely knows she's alive. 
He's ready and willing
        Single dad Cal McGraw can't take any more drama in his life. After a difficult divorce, his little girl became a boy-crazy teenager and his hands are full. The last thing he needs is to spend his down time with the town bad girl. Glory is pure trouble-tempting and tantalizing trouble. But he can't deny the strong chemistry between them-or how her touch turns him inside out. Now as squabbles threaten to blow up the contest and the town of Sugar itself, Cal must risk
everything on the sexy wild card to get a second chance at love . . .

SUGAR ON TOP is available at the following sites: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, and BAM.

SUGAR’S TWICE AS SWEET by Marina Adair (November 25, 2014; Forever Mass Market; Sugar, Georgia Book #1)

He’s trouble she doesn’t need…
        Thanks to a cheating fiancé, Josephina Harrington’s perfect life just crashed and burned. Moving in with her overbearing parents is definitely not an option. No, she needs to prove she can make it on her own. And she will—by turning her great-aunt’s old plantation house into a destination getaway. She’s just not expecting her contractor to be so hands-on—and so totally irresistible.
…but everything she wants
        Bad-boy golf champion Brett McGraw figured his hometown of Sugar, Georgia, was the perfect place to lay low and get his life back up to par. The leggy blonde with a pint-sized pup is the kind of sweet ’n’ sassy trouble he never saw coming. She doesn’t know a nut from a bolt and before long, he’s renovating her house…as she steals his heart. Can he convince Josephina that his womanizing ways are in the past and he’s ready for forever?

SUGAR’S TWICE AS SWEET can be purchased at the following sites: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, and BAM.

Sugar-Georgia-Series - Thoughts in Progress


The first giveaway is for three (3) sets of Marina Adair’s Sugar, Georgia series: A TASTE OF SUGAR, SUGAR ON TOP, and SUGAR’S TWICE AS SWEET. The winners (selected throughout the tour) will each receive the complete series.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The second giveaway is just for visitors to Thoughts in Progress and is for one print copy of A TASTE OF SUGAR. This contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and unfortunately no P.O. Box addresses can be accepted. This giveaway ends at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, Sept. 1. When contacted, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected.

To enter this giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below (the second one) and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy stories that have that small-town, close-knit atmosphere to them? Or do you prefer stories that are set in large cities without close ties?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ever After Launch Day {+ Giveaway}

Ever After by Rachel Lacey - Thoughts in ProgressIt’s a delight for Thoughts in Progress to be participating in the Launch Day Blitz for author Rachel Lacey’s EVER AFTER, the third installment in her Love to the Rescue series.

As part of the Launch Day Blitz, Rachel is sharing an excerpt from her new release. In addition, she’s giving away 3 series sets (one winner gets all three books in the series) during her special event. Be sure to check at the end of this post to see how you can enter to win.

First here’s a brief synopsis of EVER AFTER (August 25, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Love to the Rescue #3):

        Olivia Bennett is not having a happy birthday. Instead of blowing out her twenty-nine candles, she's stuck in jail, caught red-handed in a graffiti incident that (perhaps) involved one too many strawberry margaritas. Worst idea ever. The only bright side is that she ended up in the strong arms of the most gorgeous lawman she's ever seen. 
        Pete Sampson (aka Deputy Hot Stuff) faces intense pressure from the sheriff to find out who's behind a string of vandalisms. And after her spray-painting spree, Olivia is suspect number one. Still, Pete can't stop thinking about her. Wanting her. Now he's torn between his duty and his overpowering desire for the vivacious waitress. But he may have to bend the rules because true love is more important than the letter of the law . . .

EVER AFTER is available at the following sites: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, and BAM.

Here’s a quick look at the other two books in the series.

FOR KEEPS (January 27, 2015; Forever Mass Market; Love to the Rescue #2):

A SUMMER FLING . . . OR SOMETHING MORE?                 Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue - even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It's hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children's camp where she's just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry's style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay.
        TJ Jameson isn't looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family's ranch with a wife and kids. "No-strings" Merry Atwater doesn't fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ's a goner. If he doesn't give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .

FOR KEEPS is available at these sites: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, and BAM.

UNLEASHED (October 28, 2014; Forever Mass Market; Love to the Rescue #1):

What happens when you find the right one at the wrong time?
        Cara Medlen has a serious case of animal attraction. And it's not because of all the foster dogs she's rescued. She's got it bad for her incredibly sexy neighbor. Her one rule: Don't get attached. It's served her well with the dogs she's given to good homes and the children she's nannied. Yet the temptation of Matt's sexy smile might just convince her that some rules are made to be broken.
        Matt Dumont doesn't need his skills as a private investigator to detect disaster on the horizon. Cara is everything he thought he'd never find-gorgeous, funny, and caring. But there's no way he can start a relationship just as he's about to move to another state. Talk about bad timing. As their attraction sizzles too hot to deny, they'll have to make a decision: forget the consequences and let loose, or forget each other and let go...

UNLEASHED is available at these sites: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo, and BAM.

Ever-After-Launch-Day-Blitz - Thoughts in Progress

Now for the excerpt from EVER AFTER ………..

      “Hurry up, Liv,” Kristi called from below her.
      Olivia raised the canister and let loose another blast of red paint. She’d just started “I” when the sound of an approaching vehicle reached her. Her finger slipped, and a fresh coat of paint soaked her hands.
      Kristi and Terence must have heard it too, because the flashlight shut off, leaving her at the top of the ladder in pitch darkness, afraid to move. Headlights slashed through the night from Garrett Road, some two hundred feet to her left. They slowed, then tires crunched over gravel as the car turned into the factory parking lot.
      Christ on a cracker.
      “Get the hell down, Liv. We’ve got to get out of here!” Terence whispered.
      A swirl of blue lights turned the night into a kaleidoscope of oh, shit. She pressed against the side of the building, stymied by paint-slickened fingers as she fumbled for the top of the ladder.
      She was so not getting arrested on her birthday.
      Except that she so was. A spotlight shone from the cruiser, illuminating her in a blaze of light so bright she could do nothing but press a hand over her eyes and count how many ways spray-painting Halverson Foods’ chicken-processing plant had been a bad idea.
      The ladder shifted beneath her, and she groped for the top rung. The combination of the spinning blue lights with the piercing glare of the spotlight was seriously disorienting.
      “Hands where I can see them,” a male voice boomed.
      She shoved her hands into the air, managing to smack herself in the face with the can of spray paint in the process. It fell to the ground with a muffled thump. Oh, this sucked.
      “Come down from the ladder, nice and slow, and keep those hands up,” the cop instructed. He sounded nice-ish. Maybe he’d go easy on her. Maybe . . .
      Awkwardly, she fumbled with her right foot for the next rung of the ladder. It swayed dangerously to the side.
      “Terence!” she hissed, her fingernails scoring metal as she tried to steady herself.
      Silence. She looked down, but the spotlight’s glare blinded her, preventing her from seeing past her own paint-spattered boots. “Terence? Kristi?”
      She managed to get her foot settled onto the rung and took a step down. No answer came from her friends. What the hell?
      She lifted her left foot to take the next step, and the ladder just dropped out from beneath her. One second it was there, the next she was plummeting through space.
      “Oomph,” came a masculine grunt, as she slammed into someone’s chest and big, strong arms closed around her.
      “Terence?” Her voice was a squeak, because Terence was nowhere near this strong, and he didn’t smell as good either. This man smelled faintly of cinnamon, his arms solid as steel behind her thighs, and based on the hard bulge stabbing into her kidney, he was also armed.
      Oh, crap. Crap. Crap!
      “Sorry,” he answered her question, setting her roughly on the ground. “Not Terence.”
      “Oh.” She staggered, still blinded by the spotlight aimed at her. Disoriented, she turned her back and blinked at her shadow on the factory’s gray wall. Terence and Kristi had deserted her. Bastards.
      “Keep those hands where I can see them,” Invisible Cop said.
      With a sigh, she placed them on the wall before her. Her hands glistened blood-red in the harsh light. She had been caught red-handed. Dammit. She’d always hated being a cliché.

Rachel Lacey lives in North Carolina, with her husband, son, and their own rescued pup. She volunteers her spare time with Carolina Boxer Rescue and truly has a passion for helping our furry friends. 

She is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her local Heart of Carolina RWA chapter.

For more information on Rachel and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


Love-to-the-Rescue-Series by Rachel Lacey - Thoughts in Progress

Three winners throughout the blitz tour will each receive a complete Love to the Rescue series set (EVER AFTER, FOR KEEPS and UNLEASHED). To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient.

Thanks for stopping by during Rachel’s Launch Day Blitz. Do you enjoy books that have positive factors to them such as the rescue element in Rachel’s stories? Do you enjoy stories that include animals as part of the storyline?

a Rafflecopter giveaway