Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Coffee with Carlene: How did you meet? 🐝

If at any point in time you honestly thought I'd meet my personal deadline for these posts, you were very wrong. I'll just have to assume you've never been a bride. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. But I'll use this time right now to say I am not that bride; I am not timely, organized, or good at putting wedding planning before the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Did you see this week's episode?! See this post for a glimpse into my actual approach to the planning.

I am, however, finally that bride that is excited. I am that bride who has made all the signs, except one that I've just given up on, that has made 1,000 lists that are scattered across every room in our house, and that has purchased six lipstick colors that I somehow have to decide on my this Saturday. It's nearly here, y'all, so instead you're going to get a daily Coffee with Carlene, that I'm going to write entirely today 🤷. At this point I have to be cliche, sorry not sorry. I'm pairing this post with our engagement photos, you can read or you can just scroll for the gorgeous photos done by Linsey Middleton Photography. We already can't wait to see the magic she works for our wedding photos.

I promised our meet cute, except I am not sure by RomCom movie standards if internet dating is considered a meet cute. Two and a half years ago I was so against the idea of dating that the suggestion I get onto a social dating app was laughable. I lived in a small town, I knew everyone, I wasn't going to meet anyone new, I wasn't going to meet anyone not jaded, married, or truly available. I said them all and yet out of spite I still downloaded Bumble. That's right, the app that you can now use to also make friends, I got on there with some witty tagline like "If you're concerned about my height I'm probably taller than you," and started picking boys based off looks alone. I am not even going to pretend I gave this app any effort, especially once I started having guys pick me back and I realized I had to make the first move...meaning write the first message.
It wasn't until Kevin, who wrote me back just as awkwardly as I had written him, that I gave it any effort at all. We talked for about a month before we finally decided to meet. Our first official date in December 2016 found us talking for hours, the restaurant closing down around us. After that we texted daily and Kevin not-so-patiently worked to arrange a second date and then a third. I meanwhile did my usual wanderlust thing, attending festivals, hopping on flights, and booking future trips. I really must admit I was a hard lady to nail down and yet he didn't falter on his pursuit, his persistence is easily one of my favorite things about him. 

On January 27th we declared ourselves officially a couple, I accidentally met his parents a bit early on January 28th, and by February 14th we said I love you for the first time. Kevin said it first, in case you were wondering. We've gone at light speed ever since and I am so grateful to have an adventurous, patient man by my side as we decided to do the darn thing, meaning get married, just five months after Kevin proposed on Christmas Day 2018. We're just a few days away now, there's so much to be done, but if there is one thing I can count on, one thing I am so looking forward to, it is the endless, overflowing love we have for one another and our equal excitement to begin our lives as husband and wife. 

Photographer: Linsey Middleton Photography
Make-up: Me
Dress: Kohls

Friday, May 10, 2019

Cover Reveal: Deceit - Ava Harrison

DECEIT by Ava Harrison
Release Date: May 27th, 2019
Cover Design: Hang Le
Photographer: Jon Wong
Model: Christian Hogue
I needed to get away.
My ex was getting married.
So, I left.
The English countryside was a picture-perfect escape.
The dashing stranger an even better one.
And what started as a chance encounter quickly became more.
He promised to show me how to live, how to feel alive and forget a past best forgotten.
He made me believe things could be different.
That was until I found out who he was . . .
He was Oliver Blackthorn.
The 16th Earl of Lockhart. Thirty-third in line to the throne.
And a liar.

Release Alert: 
Text 'Harrison' 313131 to get a text when Deceit releases!

About the Author:
Ava Harrison is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author.
When she’s not journaling her life, you can find her window shopping, cooking dinner for her family, or curled up on her couch reading a book.

Connect w/Ava:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | Bookbub | Newsletter

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Cover Reveal: The Regret Duet - Aly Martinez

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The Regret Duet, an all-new emotional duet from USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez, is coming May 23rd and I have the gorgeous covers to share with you!

Written With Regret
Releasing May 23rd
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Every little girl dreams of the fairytale. The one where the white knight rushes in to save her from the clutches of evil. They fall in love, have babies, and live happily ever after.
By that definition, my life should have been a fairytale too.
When I was eight years old, Caven Hunt saved me from the worst kind of evil to walk the Earth. It didn’t matter that I was a kid. I fell in love with him all the same.
But that was where my fairytale ended.
Years later, a one-night stand during the darkest time imaginable gave us a little girl. It was nothing compared to the pitch black that consumed me when I was forced to leave her with Caven for good.
At the end of every fairytale, the happily-ever-after is the one thing that remains consistent. It wasn’t going to be mine, but there hadn’t been a night that passed where I hadn’t prayed that it would be hers.
I owed Caven my life.
However, I owed that innocent child more.
And that included ripping the heart from my chest and facing her father again.

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Written With You
Releasing June 13th
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When I was fifteen, a single bullet changed my life. I spent the next decade trying to outrun the devastation of my past, building an empire that would shield me from whatever life could throw at me.
But all the money in the world couldn’t help me when I found a screaming newborn abandoned on my doorstep.
I’d never wanted to be a father. Passing the sludge that ran through my veins down to an innocent child seemed like a tragedy. But there she was—pink cheeks, red hair, and mine.
Somehow, against all logic, that little girl became the best thing that ever happened to me. It was impossible to stay lost in the past when I was the only one who could protect her future.
Which is exactly why, when her mother came back four years later, I was ready for battle.
If only I could stop myself from falling in love with her during the war.

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Covers Designed by Hang Le
Photography by Wander Aguiar

About Aly
AlyWanderEdited.jpgOriginally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her husband and four young children.
Never one to take herself too seriously, she enjoys cheap wine, mystery leggings, and olives. It should be known, however, that she hates pizza and ice cream, almost as much as writing her bio in the third person.
She passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a super-sized tumbler of wine by her side.

Connect with Aly
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Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Blog Tour & Review: Dirty Pool - Bethany-Kris

Publication Date: May 6, 2019
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Organized Crime, Erotic Romance, Standalone
by Bethany-Kris
To get what he wants, he’ll have to play a game of dirty pool.
Michel Marcello never wanted to be a mafioso like every other man in his family—he wanted to be more. That doesn’t mean he’s unfamiliar with the life, or that he can’t hold his own against other made men.
They forgot where he came from …
His chance encounter with the fiery and beautiful daughter of Detroit’s most notorious Irish mob boss stokes flames beyond the ones that ignite between Michel and Gabbie Casey. Rivals shouldn’t mix, but these opposites have never been more attracted, either.
The lines between family loyalty, their duties, and responsibility begin to blur.
Love ruins all.
But these two aren’t the only ones playing this game, and it just became far more dangerous to get out alive.
Dirty Pool is a standalone romantic suspense.
Amazon | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

5 Stars
I've been taking a break from my organized crime reading and making quite a pile of TBR books because of that, but when I saw Bethany-Kris was giving us Michel Marcello I knew I had to push everything to the side for it. Michel has no desire to be a made man, he wants to be a trauma surgeon, he thrives under that sort of pressure. His spare time is spent supporting the Detroit family, but they question his allegiance as he falls for the pretty red head with the last name Casey. He's going to have show them just how patient, cunning, vicious he can be.

"Michel wasn't like them. He wasn't obvious. A silent sort of vicious."

Let's take a second to appreciate Bethany-Kris for doing what a lot of authors fail to do with organized crime novels, make the characters real. They aren't perfect heroes and heroines, they aren't all about their family's wants, some don't want that life, and some strike out on their own and fall in love with what could be perceived as wrong person. Sure, they're still beautiful and handsome and wealthy, but they aren't just replicas of their parents waiting to step into the role upon its availability. Both Michel and Gabbie are as real as it gets, their lives do not revolve around their parents roles as the Marcello don and the Irish Mob Boss, respectively. However, their life goals and dreams don't remove them from the family, they still have that same respect, and Dirty Pool is a story about what happens when two people, from opposing families, find one another and have to make a choice. Michel and Gabbie have insane chemistry, the lust between them is off the charts, and the natural way they just fit together is a dead giveaway that the are just meant to be. Sure, they're drawn together by the passion they share in the bedroom, but soon it's emotional and I loved watching that play out. Both know what they want, but of course family ties are binding and sometimes a Marcello must be a Marcello.

"It was an experience. It was her."

Rules, traditions, bloodshed, and romance are all found in the pages of Dirty Pool. Michel and Gabbie may have respect for their family, but the feelings they share outweigh it all. I loved the different story we got with this novel, the romance was as passionate as every Bethany-Kris novel, but the organized crime and character's life was new and gave us, the readers, a different perspective. It's a story about love and loyalty. Michel's story was an absolutely pleasure to read and I am so glad we got it. It is so easy to love these two, to love their love. 
Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.

To keep up-to-date with new releases from Bethany-Kris, sign up to her New Release Newsletter here:


Monday, May 6, 2019

Review: Well Suited - Staci Hart

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well-suited-illustrated-sm (1).jpgWell Suited, the final standalone in the Red Lipstick Coalition Series from Staci Hart, is available now!
Chemistry is my love language.
I’ve always been able to separate feelings from chemosignals. A shot of dopamine, a dash of serotonin, and a sprinkle of oxytocin—and bam. You’re in love.
And when egg meets sperm, you’re pregnant.
I couldn’t even be surprised as I stared down at the little blue plus sign, because I knew exactly when and how, and with whom it happened.
When: approximately five weeks ago.
Who: one night stand.
How: prophylactic malfunction.
The upside? I don’t have to go looking for a suitable mate.
Genetically, he’s the cream of the crop. His musculature is a study in symmetry and strength, his height imposing and dominant. He is a man who thrives on control and command, a man who survives on intelligence and resourcefulness. A perfect male specimen.
And the whole package is wrapped up in a flawlessly tailored suit.
I’m having this baby, and he insists we’re well-suited to have it together. And what’s worse? He wants more, in the way of love and marriage.
But love isn’t real. It’s just a product of chemistry.
And if he changes my mind about that, we’re both in trouble.
5 Stars
Katherine is the sensible friend, the last one to even think about applying her RLC red lipstick and being bold, but when life stops going as planned the lipstick, and a bit of bravery, might be the only way to get back on track. Theo shook up her senses on night, but that was all he was meant to be, one night. One night has turned into 9 months though and pragmatic Theo, in his well tailored suits and endless patience, has an offer for her. Theo sees Kate, the girl behind the lists, the books, and the rock solid plan, he sees the lover and knows its up to him to bring it out in her, to give her the best partnership he can. He knows he can be a father to this baby and the best man for Katherine "not Kate," especially when that tempting red lipstick is on. They've got chemistry and they've got emotions, but they're views may not be well-suited.

"I should have realized right then that I was doomed, damned. But the novelty of her, the unexpected intrigue, the sheer sight and smell of her were too alluring to resist."

Katherine, who from here on out we shall call Kate, has had the best quips through out the Red Lipstick Coalition series novels, but despite knowing she's an all facts kind of girl I still wasn't prepared for her. She's the kind of no-nonsense girl with a wall 10 foot wall between her and anyone else, so thank heavens Theo is a tall man willing to scale it. She likes her books, she likes the explanation science can give her for everything, and she likes Theo despite her best intentions not to. Theo is quite a bit more charming than his brother, Tommy, who you might remember from Work in Progress, but he's also ten times more serious. He's always in a suit, he manages money well, and somehow he even manages to show Kate he's the guy to trust with the direction they'll take this partnership they're forming for their upcoming child. He's also the man who cooks, who offers the sun and moon, and who believes in love in the innocent way a child does. They may not be well-suited on paper, but my word I love when these two clash together. 

"Emotions were exhausting, and I had no practical use for them. But Theo inspired extreme emotions in me."

I am the most anti-baby romance reader ever, so it says a lot that I fell head over in heels in love with Theo and Kate. I had my fears, I've read plenty of bla-cliche versions of oops-baby drama, but this was nothing like that. There wasn't an oops feeling, there was excitement and sensibility, there was realistic tension and worries and fears. The romance, sure it was wanted and the fire burning between these two is always flickering, but there was a very realistic approach to an upcoming baby from Theo and Kate and I so appreciated Staci Hart giving us that story first. I love love loved their co-parenting approach and I appreciated Theo's sneaky way of using that to get just a little bit closer to the serious Kate. Plus, I had no idea how much humor could be put into a story about babies and practical partnership. Theo and Kate give us those swoony moments too and soon I was loudly (actually out-loud) begging Kate to give into the emotions she doesn't understand. 

"'We do so solemnly swear,' she recited, 'to use this shiny little tube of power to inspire braveness, boldness, and courage. We promise to jump when it's scary, to stand tall when we want to hide, to scream our truth instead of whisper our fears. may we be mistresses of our destinies, and to hell with anyone who tries to tell us otherwise.'"


Well Suited is the final novel in the Red Lipstick Coalition series and it has been such a pleasure spending time with these four best friends. Commonsense Kate, bookworm Amelia, awkward Val, and shy Rin have been each others protection for so long, but a pact to wear a shade of bold red lipstick has brought to them each newfound confidence, bravery, and the men they never thought they'd find. I have loved this series, I have felt like one of the girls at various points in my life, and in these books I have found a comfortable home. Putting my lipstick on alongside Kate as she faced her fears of emotions and relationships was such a joy and while I'm sad to see this series go, I am ever so thankful Staci Hart gave it to us in the first place. 
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Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
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About the Author
Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife, though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey.
From roots in Houston to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's reading, sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.
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