ARC Review: Southern Perfection-Casey Peeler

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cooltext1695429043Life is full of choices, good, bad, and the ones you can’t control. Raegan is perfect in every way, but what happens when life occurs? By day, Raegan is a typical high school student, but at three o’clock, her real work begins.

Varsity cheerleader, honor student, and proud granddaughter of the Lowery Farm, what happens when appearances are not what they seem?

Will Raegan be able to hold on to her life or will she be left with nothing? All of these thoughts change with one night, one song, one story, and one boy.

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3.5/5 Stars

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review

PROS:

  • Casey Peeler clearly poured her heart and soul into the relationship between grandaddy and his sunshine, Raegan. The Amazing Grace scene. I just, OMG, totally lost it, bawling my eyes out, ugly crying hysterics. Holy smokes, the heartache was brutal. Anyone who has lost someone who meant the world to them can identify with and relive these poignant and raw emotions, hopefully with as much strength and grace as Raegan.
  • This was my first Southern romance. As a girl who loves her country music and attempts (poorly) to line dance whenever she can, the song references were perfect and had me reaching for my iPod. It’s as if the story has a built in soundtrack. The bonfire-Where its At scene was adorable. It’s the kind of scene you read and you stop everything, a cheesy grin takes over as you melt in your seat into a pool of happy. So cute. When Raegan and Em sing to each other I just about died. If you weren’t in love with Emmett before, that’s the moment. As someone who is NOT from the South, who has never been to a bonfire or sipped on some moonshine, this was a whole new world and experience for me and I enjoyed every second.
  • Grandaddy is the epitome of what you expect a protective Southern grandfather to be like, complete with blunt words, in your face threats, and a shotgun by his side when Emmett picks Raegan up at the front door. He has so much personality and energy, all of his scenes are full of laughter and light. His lines are the BEST. Grandaddy’s love for Raegan is infinite and pure. He wants to protect her and cherishes her as the sunshine that brightens his day. It’s incredible, the closeness Casey Peeler captured in their interactions. 
  • Raegan is courageous and fierce. She has an image of the beautiful, all American sweetheart and does everything in her power to maintain that to the outside world even when she’s falling apart on the inside. Raegan has so much love to give and worships her grandaddy, he’s everything to her. Raegan has tons of responsibility but she never complains and she always does what she believes is right but she’s also got fire in her. If she gets mad, it’s a storm of anger and emotion lashing. She’s stubborn to a fault yet lighthearted and brings joy to those around her. Raegan has a vulnerable side that is magnetic. As much as she tries to hide her sorrow, when it comes out it’s like a lash to the heart. 
  • Emmett is Raegan’s soul mate. I’ve read hundreds of books this year and this is the first one where I actually felt in my bones that characters were meant to be. It wasn’t a slow burn but destiny.

CONS:

  • While Emmett is definitely a Southern gentleman, throughout the story, he’s referenced as a catch. Everyone knows it, everyone loves him but there’s no real explanation why other than the fact that he used to play football. The finer details of his character were absent.
  • Cole also is a bit of a mystery character. We never get any true insight into what he does for fun, it’s merely suggested.

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be9dd-caseyauthorpicWebsite/Facebook/Amazon/Twitter/Goodreads

Casey Peeler grew up and still lives in North Carolina with her husband and daughter. Her first passion is teaching students with special needs. Over the years, she found her way to relax was in a good book.

After reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston her senior year of high school and multiple Nicholas Sparks’ novels, she found a hidden love and appreciation for reading.

Casey is an avid reader, blogger (Hardcover Therapy,) and now author. No Turning Back (Full Circle #1) is her debut novel releasing September 30th. Finding Charley (Full Circle #2) will release spring 2014.

Her goal is to one day be an author who is recognized nationwide like Jamie McGuire, Colleen Hoover, Tiffany King, and Amanda Bennett.

When Casey isn’t reading, you can find her listening to country music, spending the day at the lake, being a wife and dance mom, and spending time with friends and family.

Her perfect day consists of water, sand between her toes, a cold beverage, and a great book!

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

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Pleasant reading,

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ARC Review: London Loves-Theresa Troutman

“‘Gee, if you could show any more enthusiasm, I just might die,’ she teased.”
“‘I’m English, I don’t show enthusiasm,’ Sebastian warned.”
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“You never know what the future holds.”
Tess Hamilton Irons is excited about her new job prospect overseas. Her husband Sebastian has second thoughts. He acquiesces to his wife so she can have her dream job in his hometown of London, a city brimming with excitement and adventure at every turn—not all of it good.
Lady Lily Irons’ menacing persona looms large as Sebastian vows to protect his family at all costs. With the help of an unexpected ally, Sebastian begins a search for the father he never knew.
In a split second, the life they know is blown to bits and Sebastian is forced to pick up the pieces. Can he reclaim the life he loved or is the inevitable change a good thing?
Friendship, love, lust, tragedy, and triumph combine in the thrilling conclusion to the Love’s Great Adventure series.
18+ for sexual situations
Book 1 – Life’s What You Make It
Book 2 – Love This Life
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4/5 Stars
As someone who has been with and loved this story since its initial release, I can say without reservation that London Loves is my favorite of the bunch. London Loves brings everything together in a beautifully passionate way not only in terms of plot but stylistically. Throughout the series, one of the things I’ve most admired about Theresa Troutman’s writing is the simple, straightforward style. There’s no fluff, it’s not chaotic or forced, it flows and moves and is so natural you honestly feel as though you’ve transported into upper class British society life. This installment of the Love’s Great Adventures series will move you. Everything you yearned and hungered for in the first two books is resolved and expanded upon. No stone is left unturned. There are quite a few surprises along the way but what is startling is the sheer extent of the character growth. Get ready to swoon, to fall in love, and shed a few tears, London Loves is the sort of timeless romance that stays.
PROS:
  • You know that warm, deeply satisfying feeling of contentment after eating a hearty, home cooked meal? Theresa Troutman’s London Loves concludes in a comforting, heartwarming fashion. The play on words at the end of the story will bring a smile to your face. It’s absolutely perfect, the cohesion, the way every story became connected in just a few short lines was masterfully written. I felt like clapping, I was so ecstatic with how everything turned out. I couldn’t keep the grin off my face as all Tess and Sebastian’s dreams came true. It was a magical, exhilarating rollercoaster ride and like the rush you feel getting over the first drop, all the downfalls and tragedies this couple was faced with are replaced by excitement and the pride of survival. 
  • Penny. To be perfectly frank, I loathed Penny is the first two books. Like despised her to the point of book throwing (not really, but close). There was just this lackadaisical, no cares, sycophantic way about her that rubbed my nerves raw. She always reminded me of Brett Ashley from The Sun Also Rises or Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It was in this book that I finally realized, all Penny wanted was to be loved, unconditionally and she flitted through life, searching but hadn’t found anyone worthy of her heart. Penny play a huge part in this book, much more so than in the others and as a reader, we get to see just what makes her tick. Penny is so much more than the shared girl between two British playboys, she has wants and desires that are maybe old-fashioned but classy and full of heart. When Penny grants the gift of her love (it is a gift) it’s pure and giving. She loves deeply and all the way, no holding back. The happiness and hope she feels when she falls is breathtaking to read. It’s made of light and wishes, of a dazzling future and dreams left to be discovered.
  • The raw agony and heartache wears on the soul after a horrific tragedy. Grab your tissues. The pain, the disappointment, and the dreams that were robbed are enough to push anyone over the edge. Be careful reading this is a public, densely populated place because once the tears start to roll, it’s pretty intense.
  • There are several new characters introduced and you get to meet Sebastian’s estranged family members. One thing Theresa is great at is crafting unique, yet believable characters with flaws and a variety of personalities. Each character has depth, they’re multidimensional and a puzzle to solve.
  • Tess and Sebastian are soul mates. No doubt about it. They understand each other on a level that suggests knowing every little aspect of their personality. They know through expressions when the other is hiding something or hurt, they can tell what the other is thinking and know how to soothe the worst situations. The chemistry between them sexually is natural, casual, and full of love. There’s nothing raunchy or explicitly sexual about these scenes but they’re adorable, the way they toss around jokes and tease each other shows a love that is about more than lust.
  • Mattie is a rambunctious, brilliant child. She speaks her mind and can get pushy but she takes charge and understands much more than some of the adults. She’s funny, her questions are so revealing and pinpoint aspects of the characters that they don’t recognize themselves. 
  • Sebastian is a heart-throb, not just because he’s hot. Sebastian is more than a gorgeous face, he loves unconditionally and can forgive almost anything. He sacrifices and gives so much to make his family happy. His values are romantic and pristine. He knows what he wants and his family means everything to him. In a way, it’s sort of heartbreaking. Sebastian has more family that are not his blood than are. He makes his family and builds powerful relationships with his friends. On one hand, he just reunited with his family but he’s discovered that Life is What You Make It and forcing yourself into a bad situation due to familial duty is not as important as living a fulfilling, happy life. 
CONS:
  • There were a few questionable word choices, a typo or two.
  • Sometimes it felt as though things were too perfect, that everything was resolved so quickly it hardly phased the characters. I wanted some more insight into Tess’ emotions. After the whirlwind mood swings of Love This Life I expected Tess to wear her heart on her sleeve or to at least be more open about her feelings (non sexual) with Sebastian.
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Sebastian guided Mattie through the rooms at the Tate Gallery, holding her small, delicate hand in his. Something caught her eye and she pulled her father toward the painting.She looked up to him and said, “Pick me up, Daddy. I want to see better.”Sebastian obliged, lifting her up and cradling her in his arms. “You’re getting too big, Mattie.” He smiled, secretly delighted that she still loved to be held by him.She studied the painting of several women walking down a curved stone staircase, playing musical instruments. They were wearing thin, gossamer tunics and their red spirals of hair were elegantly coiffed atop their heads. “I like this one. It’s pretty. Who made it?”“This painting is by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. It was painted in 1880.”“Wow, that’s old.”

“Yes, it is,” Sebastian agreed. “What do you like about the painting?” he quizzed his daughter.

“They look like angels, Daddy.”
“Do you notice how they all have the same face?” Mattie nodded. “Why is that, Daddy?”
“Well, you see, the woman who posed for the painter was his muse.”

“What’s a muse?” the child asked.
“A muse is someone who inspires you to create beautiful things,” Sebastian explained. “The painter was so inspired by this woman, he made all the ladies in the painting look just like her.”

“Was he married to her?”

Sebastian chuckled. How on earth did this little one come up with these questions? “No, he wasn’t married to her.” He didn’t have the heart to tell herthe muse was the artist’s mistress—nor did he want to explain to his four-year-old what a mistress was.

“Was he in love with her?” Mattie countered.

“Yes, he was madly in love with her,” Sebastian replied, touching the tip of his nose to hers. “Just like I’m madly in love with you.”

“I love you, too,” Mattie replied with a giggle.

He gently set her back down on her feet and looked at his Rolex. “It’s almost noon. We should get going if we’re going to meet your mum for lunch.”

“We can come back here later?” “Absolutely,” her father agreed.

They made their way down the marble staircase and toward the main entrance door. “Daddy, my shoe is untied,” Mattie said, looking down at her long shoelace that was resting on the floor.

“Do you want me to tie it for you?” Sebastian offered to help.

“No, I can do it.” She bent over and meticulously made two loops with the shoe strings and tied them. Sebastian watched intently until she finished the task. She stood up and took her father’s hand and almost bumped into an older woman as she took a step forward.

Sebastian stopped in his tracks. The woman standing in front of him was his mother. She hadn’t changed at all. She still wore a tailored designer suit, sensible pumps, and her hair was pulled back in the usual updo. His mouth went dry. It had been seven years since their disastrous encounter—the encounter that changed his life for the better.

“Sebastian?” She said his name in the form of a question, obviously taken aback to find him standing in front of her after all these years. She turned to observe the small, adorable child standing next to him, who had Sebastian’s brown hair and blue eyes.

Sebastian said nothing. Mattie finally broke the silence. “Hello,” she cheerfully greeted.

“Hello, I’m Lady Lily Irons,” Lily responded. “And who might you be?”

“I’m Mattie Irons. We have the same last name!” Mattie extended her small hand to shake her grandmother’s.

Sebastian instinctively stood in front of Mattie to act as a buffer between his mother and his daughter. Mattie peered around his thigh.

“This is your child?” Lily asked in amazement.

Sebastian turned and protectively picked Mattie up in his arms. “Come on, Mattie. We’ll be late for lunch with your mum.”

“Do we get to take the Tube?” Mattie asked with enthusiasm.

“Yes, we’ll go on a little adventure,” Sebastian smiled.

Mattie turned back to face Lily. “It was nice to meet you,” she said as Sebastian quickly brushed past his mother and eagerly exited the museum.

Once outside, the cool air hit Sebastian in the face and snapped him out of his shock. He continued to hold Mattie in his arms, and with a quick pace walked down the road toward Pimlico Station. A heavy sigh escaped his lips.

“Daddy, was that lady our family?” she asked, looking back over her father’s shoulder.

“No, Mattie,” he curtly replied.

“But she has the same last name as we do,” she protested.

“Yes. But you’ll find that just because someone shares your last name, that does not make them family.”

“Aunt Sigourney is family.”

“And so is Aunt Alice, Uncle Henry, and Aunt Penny, but they don’t have our last name,” Sebastian politely reminded her. What was he doing trying to reason with a four year old? He decided to change the subject. “How about we pick up some flowers for mummy in the train station? What should we buy her?”

Thankfully, Mattie was easily distracted. “A big bouquet! We should get Gerbera daisies and roses and tiger lilies.”

“Tiger lilies? I don’t think they’re in season right now.”

“I don’t care, Daddy. I like the name. Grrrr!” She scrunched her nose, bared her teeth, and clawed her hands up in his face to mimic a tiger cub.

“Oh, you’re a very scary tiger, indeed.”

Sebastian and Mattie entered the Associated Press building and rode the elevator to the twenty-fifth floor. They walked over to the front desk and Sebastian introduced himself. “Hello, we’re here to see Tess Irons. Can you please let her know her husband and daughter are here to take her to lunch?”

The receptionist smiled down at Mattie and then picked up the receiver to make the call. A few minutes later, Tess was walking toward them.

“We bought you flowers for your first day of work,” a beaming Mattie announced.

Tess looked at the large bouquet of daisies and roses. “I love them, thank you. Let’s go put them on my desk and I’ll grab my purse and we can be on our way.”

Tess walked them through a maze of cubicles. There was a busy excitement in the newsroom: people on the phone, some typing away on computers, others rushing about the floor. It was controlled chaos and Sebastian understood immediately why Tess loved her job. They entered the three-walled cubicle and Mattie took a seat in her mother’s swivel chair. Tess placed the vase of flowers next to the photo of the three of them in Central Park.

“Come, Mattie. Mummy only has an hour for lunch,” Sebastian reminded his daughter.

They sat in a nearby park, eating take-away sandwiches while Mattie ran around the lush green grass, burning off energy. “How is your first day going?” Sebastian asked, after swallowing a bite of his prawn sandwich.

“Good, I thought it might be hard, but the procedures are the same, it’s just getting to know everyone on the team. I’m happy.” Tess sat back and gave Sebastian a long, hard look. “How is your day? You seem a little off. Is Mattie driving you crazy?”

“I took Mattie to the Tate Gallery this morning and had the misfortune to run into Lily.”

“Oh my God, what happened?”

“We bumped into her as we were leaving. Mattie was all talk and smiles. I was in shock—all I could think about was getting Mattie out of there and protecting her.”

“You did, Bas. You’re an amazing father,” Tess said to comfort him.

“Lily was gobsmacked to see me with a child in tow.”

“Yes, I would imagine so.” Tess reached over and took his hand. “She doesn’t know where we live. She cut you out of the family. Please don’t let this rattle you.”

“I suppose you’re right. It wouldn’t be realistic to think I could live in London and not run into her eventually.” Sebastian let out a weary sigh. “I guess it is better that it happened sooner than later.”

“Sebastian, you take care of us, you protect us. There is no one else I’d ever want to have my back. I love you.”

He pulled Tess into his arms and hugged her tight. “Thank you, darling,” he whispered in her ear. “You’re right. She can’t hurt us. I won’t let her.”

Excerpt 2

Over the course of the dinner, Alistair went on to tell the group about his travels to Africa, while Sebastian and Tess talked about living in New Jersey and working in New York. When they finished their meal, Tess put Mattie to bed. Sebastian and Alistair sat in the living room, enjoying an after dinner drinks.

“I read in the papers that Penny Stanton and your brother are engaged. That was a surprise,” Alistair said, crossing his legs as he sipped his scotch.

“Do you keep in touch with Penny?”

Alistair laughed. “After she told me to sod off and few other choice words—no.”

“You cheated on her in public. How did you think she’d react?”

“Irons, you were no saint back then either,” Alistair reminded him.

“Yes, I know. Things changed. I met Tess. I have a beautiful daughter. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.”

Alistair became quiet, lost in thought. Finally, he looked Sebastian in the eye and said, “Penny was the best thing that ever happened to me and I blew it.”

“I won’t disagree. Why didn’t you go after her?”

“I was young and stupid. Hell, we all were back then—all of us except Penny. I was going to the Naval Academy, and it just didn’t seem possible to carry on a relationship.” Alistair looked down at his perfectly manicured fingernails and asked, “Is she well?”

“Yes, she is well. You can’t tell me you never run into her.”

“A few times—here and there. She smiles politely, but we never speak.”

“And now that you see someone else is serious about her, you want her back?”

“No, she’d never have me even if it were possible. I like Maxwell. He’ll be good to her.” He placed his glass down on the coffee table and ran his hand through his blond hair. “Bollocks! I’m just feeling sorry for myself.”

“Poor Prince Alistair.”

“Sod off, Irons,” he said, cracking a grin.
The two old friends looked at one another and began laughing aloud. Just then Tess walked back into the room. “Keep it down you two. Mattie just fell asleep,” she admonished as she sat down next to Sebastian.

“Sorry, darling,” he apologized, kissing her temple.

“So tell me, Tess: what on earth made you fall in love with Sebastian?”

Tess looked up at her husband. Her lips curled up into a smile. “I had never met anyone like him before. He’s the most loyal friend I’ve ever had, the most loving husband, and the best father.”

Sebastian looked at her, his eyes shining bright with happiness. “I love you,” he whispered, forgetting Alistair was still in the room.

Alistair cleared his throat to get the couple’s attention. “I’d best be going. You two lovebirds seem like you need some alone time.”

“Please, you’re welcome to stay a while longer,” Tess offered.

“Thank you for a wonderful dinner.” Alistair stood and kissed Tess on the cheek. Next, he shook

Sebastian’s hand. “If you’d like, I’d love to have you by Kensington Palace in a few weeks for dinner. I have an apartment there. You’re welcome to bring Mattie, too.”

“Thank you for the offer, but I’m not sure you want Mattie running around the palace,” Sebastian said.

Tess looked up at her husband with expectant eyes. “She would love it and so would I.”

“It’s settled then. I’ll have my secretary ring you next week with a date.”

“Thank you, Alistair. It was a pleasure to meet you,” Tess said, extending her hand.

Opening the front door, Sebastian said, “Have a good evening.” He watched as Alistair made his way to the Range Rover parked in front of their home. When he had driven off, Sebastian loosened his tie and shook his head in disbelief. “How did you mange to wrangle an invitation to the palace?”

“You’ve known him how many years and you’ve never been there?” Tess asked in disbelief.

“Back then, the palace—any palace—was the last place we wanted to be.” Sebastian took her hand and led her to the bedroom.

“Yes, I suppose wild parties and fine painting and antiques don’t mix. Too many things could get broken.”

“Exactly.”

“He seems nice enough. Do you think he’s tamed his wild ways?”

“Maybe he has. It’s hard to say. He’s regretting letting Penny get away.”

“He told you that?”

“Yes.” Sebastian closed the bedroom door and began to take off his suit.

“Hmm, interesting time for him to pop back into the picture,” Tess mused, stepping out of her dress and then hanging it in the closet.

“I’ll keep an eye on him. I don’t need him stirring up trouble for Max and Pen.”

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Theresa Troutman lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their crazy dog, Niko. She loves reading, theatre, traveling and is an active member of the SCBWI. Works by Theresa include My Secret Summer (YA romance), A Special Connection (New Adult Romance), and Life’s What You Make It – Love’s Great Adventure Series Book 1 ( Mature YA romance) Love this Life book 2, London Loves book 3. 

For my reviews on the first 2 books in this series click here –> Life’s What You Make ItLove This Life
If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:
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Pleasant reading, 
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Cover Reveal: Eventide-Kristen Day

The next thrilling installment of the Daughters of the Sea.

This novella will be available November 4th 

 Purchase the first book Forsaken, on Amazon: http://bit.ly/ForsakenRDB

Purchase the first book Forsaken, on Smashwords: http://bit.ly/XziTwd

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The age-old balance of light and dark will always find a way to be restored. At times it comes in the form of non-discriminate karma or the heavy hand of divine will. At other times that balance comes in the form of a single, teenage girl.

 

My name is Fallon. I am different. I am special. My essence moves in a cadence unknown to the other Auras at the House of Eventide. It was born of the intricate dance of the moon’s opposing forces; retract and advance, embrace and release. The brazen energy of the sun preys at the edges of my being; fraying its delicate balance and scorching my heart into submission. Only under the calming cover of night, can my essence shine freely.

 

My true identity must be kept secret at all costs. My very existence is a threat to the Aura Order I pretend to be a part of. Should my web of lies unravel, they would stop at nothing to destroy me.   I am the sole descendant of the light moon goddess, Luna. I have been Chosen. This is my story.

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Website / Facebook / Twitter

I am a southern belle at heart with a crazy streak that desperately tries to escape at every opportunity. I love all things nostalgic, rustic, and quirky. I’ve been told I see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I prefer to think of them as kaleidoscope glasses – swirling and morphing reality into something I can digest (who hasn’t pretended those pasty lima beans were really kiwi strawberry jelly beans?).

When I’m not writing I’m making jewelry, painting, drinking sweet tea, watching the discovery channel, or going on random adventures in the mountains of North Carolina with my amazing husband.

Happy reading, 

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