Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Review: Holidays in Virgin River by Robyn Carr

 

Holidays in Virgin River (Virgin River #7.5, 10.5) by Robyn Carr
Publication Date: October 4th 2022 by MIRA
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 

My Thoughts:
I’ve been a fan of the Virgin Rivers series for years so reading these two novellas was like coming home! I love this fictional charming town with its group of tight-knit, caring characters! I’ve watched the TV series as well and while I think they did a great job with the casting and setting, the plot lines don’t compare to the beautiful and passionate stories Ms. Carr has written!  Not that I’ll stop watching, lol.

Loved both novellas and I enjoyed that they’re connected. The first, Under the Christmas Tree, centers on Annie McCarty a longtime resident who stumbles an abandoned litter of puppies that need care. Nate Jensen, the local vet, steps up to help, along with the rest of the town. Their romance was a delight, full attraction and yearning. Annie’s a bit gun-shy after being burned by her last relationship, but Nate isn’t deterred.

The second, Midnight Confessions, centers on Nate Jensen’s twenty-five-year-old niece, Sunny. She’s sworn off men after being left at the altar a year ago. She’s angry, and rightly so, but on New Year’s at Jack’s bar she meets Drew Foley who helps her to see that getting dumped may not have been a bad thing. After all, Sunny wouldn’t be spending an evening getting to know the sweet, handsome man otherwise.

In addition to the two novellas, Holidays in Virgin River includes a note from Robyn Carr describing how the story of Virgin River came to her and several delicious sounding recipes inspired by the series (some listed below in the book description). Comfort-food type of recipes I plan on trying!

4 Stars


Book Description:

A special gift Christmas hardcover anthology of 2 Virgin River novellas by #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr plus an introduction from the author and select recipes and explanations of the holiday traditions celebrated in Virgin River.

Contains two Virgin River novellas: Under the Christmas Tree and Midnight Confessions along with at least 10 recipes and anecdotes written by Robyn Carr about why the recipes are special to specific characters from VR. We'll also have an introduction written by Robyn explaining why she wrote Virgin River in the first place and why it resonates so strongly with audiences today. Examples of recipes are: The VR cookie exchange (Gingerbread cookies, Traditional Scottish Shortbread, Lemon Bars, Chocolate Chip Cookies) Hot drinks to enjoy as they decorate the town Christmas tree (mulled wine, homemade hot chocolate) Preacher's famous meatloaf and garlic mash, to name a few.


About the Author:

Robyn Carr is an award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than sixty novels, including highly praised women's fiction such as Four Friends and The View From Alameda Island and the critically acclaimed Virgin River, Thunder Point and Sullivan's Crossing series. Virgin River is now a Netflix Original series. Robyn lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit her website at www.RobynCarr.com.

Connect with Robyn Carr:






Sunday, October 2, 2022

Sunday Post #178

 

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.


We came down to my daughter's Friday to spend the weekend. Did a bookish puzzle on Saturday afternoon, had some homemade pizza, played crazy eights with the kids, and now I'm writing up this post. Tomorrow we'll head home after watching my grandson play basketball in the morning. 




Read:
Click on cover for Goodreads link:

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:


Instagram:

Hunting kitty.




How was your week?




Friday, September 30, 2022

Review: Sweetwater & the Witch by Jayne Castle

 

Sweetwater & the Witch (Harmony/Ghost Hunters #15) by Jayne Castle
Publication Date: September 20th 2022 by Berkley
Pages: 304
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Ravenna has special talent perfectly suited to her job as matchmaker. However, she has one client she can’t seem to get right, Ethan Sweetwater. Trouble is he’s part of an influential family on Harmony and so it’ll be tricky dropping him as a client. Instead of dumping him they agree to do a date assessment where she goes on a date with him. Ravenna gets more than she bargained for though when the date puts her in the sights of a deranged artifact hunter. Also, there’s someone from Ravenna’s past on a mission to take her out. Ethan is supposed to be a mild-mannered engineer, but it’s lucky for Ravenna that he’s more than that, carrying on the family tradition of hunting down bad guys, and he’s set on protecting Ravenna!

Sweetwater & the Witch was set in the futuristic world of Harmony and in the glitzy town of Illusion Town. It’s sort of like a futuristic Las Vegas/prospecting town where the hunt for magical artifacts is like mining for gold was on Earth back in the day. A lot of the populace, like Ravenna and Ethan have supernatural powers. Ravenna’s is a little more dangerous and is the reason she has some crazy people after her.  Ethan and Ravenna’s fell for each other little by little, while trying to stay one step ahead of the bad people and stay alive. I had my suspicions about why Ethan’s potential matches were always failing, and I was right. Can’t leave off without mentioning Ravenna’s sidekick, Harriett, the fun-loving dust bunny who could turn into a force to be reckoned with, getting all “sleeked out” and ready to attack whenever Ravenna or Ethan was in danger! I just loved the dust bunnies!

Sweetwater & the Witch was a fun, action-packed futuristic mystery with a sizzling romance as its center! It is part of the long running Harmony series but can easily be read as a standalone and enjoyed.

4 Stars

Book Description:

Welcome to the world of Harmony, where--despite its name, things are anything but--danger lurks just beneath the surface in this new novel by New York Times bestselling author, Jayne Castle.

If there's something Ravenna Chastain knows, it's when to end things. And after she almost winds up the victim of a cult that believes she's a witch, it's easy to walk away from her dead-end career, ready for a new start. But where to find a job that would allow her to use her very specialized skill set? The answer is clear: she becomes a matchmaker.

But even a successful matchmaker can't find someone for everyone, and Ravenna considers Ethan Sweetwater her first professional failure. After nine failed dates, Ravenna knows it's time to cut Ethan loose. But Ethan refuses to be fired as a client--he needs one final date to a business function. Since Ravenna needs a date herself to a family event, they agree to a deal: she will be his (business) date if he will be her (fake) date to her grandparents' anniversary celebration.

What Ethan fails to mention is that attending the business function is a cover for some industrial espionage that he's doing as a favor to the new Illusion Town Guild boss. Ravenna is happy to help, but their relationship gets even more complicated when things heat up--the chemistry between them is explosive, as explosive as the danger that's stalking Ravenna. Lucky for her, Ethan isn't just an engineer--he's also a Sweetwater, and Sweetwaters are known for hunting down monsters...


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Audio Review: Marple: Twelve New Mysteries by Naomi Alderman, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, and more...

 

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries by Naomi Alderman, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Cole, Lucy Foley, Elly Griffiths, Natalie Haynes, Jean Kwok, Val McDermid, Karen M. McManus, Dreda Say Mitchell, Kate Mosse & Ruth Ware
Publication Date: September 13th 2022 by Harper Audio
Pages: 380
Audio Book Length: 11 hrs 28 min
Narrator: multiple (see below)
Source: Publisher & Libro.fm
Rating: 

My Thoughts:
I’m a huge fan of Agatha Christie’s mysteries. I’ve read almost all and have re-read my favorites many times over the years, so I was understandably excited for the “additional” Miss Marple stories written as I think as an ode to Agatha Christie and her much beloved spinster sleuth. I had fun with all the stories. Some I rated higher because they were, IMO, truer to Agatha Christie’s version of Miss Marple.

Evil in Small Place by Lucy Foley read by Alex Kingston: Miss Marple is visiting an old school friend. A much talked about French woman is murdered before choir practice. Of course, not much gets by Miss Marple which puts her in some danger. Loved this one and it felt very true to Miss Marple’s character and Agatha Christie’s style. Excellent narration. 4.5 Stars

The Second Murder at the Vicarage by Val McDermid read by Adrian Scarborough: The vicar’s former maid is murdered in his kitchen. Told from the POV of the vicar he’s smart enough to not underestimate Jane and her observations and instincts. Felt very short, but it was fun and classic Jane. Great narration. 4 Stars

Miss Marple Takes Manhattan by Alyssa Cole read by Adjoa Andoh: Miss Marple visits Manhattan to see her nephew, Raymond’s book turned into a play on Broadway. As they go to have a tour behind the scenes, chaos and drama ensues. Of course, Miss Marple’s experiences from her hometown of St. Mary’s Mead help solve the case. I enjoyed this, but it strayed a bit from the Miss Marple I’ve come to know. 3 Stars

The Unraveling by Natalie Haynes read by Imogen Stubbs: A local shopkeeper and farm hand get into a fight and not long after the farm hand is found murdered. The shop keeper and his wife are automatic suspects, but why would they do it? Trust Jane to come to the solution while unraveling yarn. Very Miss Marple. Wonderful narration. 4 Stars

Miss Marple’s Christmas by Ruth Ware read by Alison Steadman: Miss Marple spends Christmas at the Bantry’s and has to help solve a theft that threatens to sully not only the Bantry’s name, but a servant’s as well. Classic Miss Marple and I loved that some of the past characters were included! Great narration. 5 Stars

The Open Mind by Naomi Alderman read by Jodhi May- Miss Marple solving the murder of an unlikable academic while at a dinner at a founder’s dinner at a college. Interesting mystery but parts felt hard to believe. Loved Ms. May’s accents, but she sounded young for Miss Marple. 3 Stars

The Jade Empress by Jean Kwok read by Chipo Chung: Miss Marple on a cruise helps solve the murder of an elder Chinese man traveling with his daughter and a companion/health care giver (?). Great narration. 3.5 Stars
 
A Deadly Wedding Day by Dreda Say Mitchell read by Cathy Tyson: Miss Marple attend a wedding of her old friend, Miss Bella’s niece. At the wedding an unexpected guess causes some trouble and there’s a murder. I don’t remember Miss Bella from A Caribbean Mystery, but they met on the island of St. HonorĂ© while Miss Marple solved another murder. Miss Bella turns out to be an excellent sleuthing partner. Classic Miss Marple and Kathy Tyson did a fantastic job with all the accents!  4 Stars

The Mystery of the Acid Soil by Kate Mosse read by Celia Imrie: Miss Marple shares a train car with a young man traveling to the same village, distraught over the disappearance of his girl. Another classic Miss Marple with an enjoyable narration. 4 Stars
 
Murder at the Villa Rosa by Elly Griffiths read by Ramon Tikeram: Told from the POV of Felix Jeffries, author of a popular mystery series having a problem with his main character. Set at a gorgeous hotel in Italy. Sounded lovely! The mystery and explanation were kind of bizarre to me. Enjoyed the narration. 3 Stars

The Murdering Sort by Karen M. McManus read by Tanya Reynolds: Miss Marple and her great niece, Nicola, tackle the murder a friend’s grandfather just after he’s proclaimed that the family wants him dead for his money. Another fun, classic Miss Marple! Loved Tanya Reynolds performance even if she did sound young for Miss Marple. 5 Stars
 
The Disappearance by Leigh Bardugo read by Miriam Margolyes: Miss Marple is urgently called back to St. Mary’s Mead by her friend Dolly Bantry after the disappearance of one of her lodgers causes chaos. There’s also the apparent suicide of a student that raises questions. Enjoyed the narration. 4 Stars



Book Description:

A brand-new collection of short stories featuring the Queen of Mystery’s legendary detective Jane Marple, penned by 12 remarkable best-selling and acclaimed authors.

This collection of 12 original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.

■ Naomi Alderman
■ Leigh Bardugo
■ Alyssa Cole
■ Lucy Foley
■ Elly Griffiths
■ Natalie Haynes
■ Jean Kwok
■ Val McDermid
■ Karen M. McManus
■ Dreda Say Mitchell
■ Kate Mosse
■ Ruth Ware

Miss Marple was first introduced to fans in a story Agatha Christie wrote for 'The Royal Magazine' in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930’s 'The Murder at the Vicarage'. It has been 45 years since Agatha Christie’s last Marple novel, 'Sleeping Murder', was published posthumously in 1976, and this collection of ingenious new stories by 12 Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Sunday Post #177

 

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week.

It's been a busy two weeks, a busy summer really but we started the remodel of our master bathroom two weeks ago. Most of the work we're having done by our contractor, but we're doing some of it. I had to remove a bunch of wallpaper which was really stuck on but good! I've spent weeks picking out tile, bathtub, vanity, etc, and it's now finally coming together. 

torn up master bath

torn up master bath

Thankfully, the fires in our area are out helped by a big rain storm we had last weekend. It rained for three days, which was lovely! We even had a fire each night.  We're back to sunshine and some hotter days this week (upper 80s). Still, the trees have begun to change and I'm so excited! 


clearing skies

I'm starting to explore hiking trails around the area and did a four mile one on Thursday. So pretty!

Local hiking trail



Read:
Click on cover for Goodreads link


This are my reads for the last two weeks. I didn't do a Sunday Post last week because we had a lot going on with our remodel. I've been thinking I'll list the star rating here as well. What do you think?

Always the First to Die: 4 Stars
Marple: Twelve New Mysteries: 4 Stars
First Born: 4 Stars

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:




Yep. This is a lot, but I'm excited for each and every one of these. So excited to get approval for Murder at Haven's Rock which just came through this morning! 

Instagram:

This is a fun series and I'm loving the new covers.




How was your week?




Thursday, September 22, 2022

Review: Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

 

Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan
Publication Date: September 20th 2022 by HQN
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher & Purchased Audiobook
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Lucy Clarke loves her job and in the social media/advertising firm she works. Her co-workers and boss feel like family, so important to hear since she lost her beloved grandmother. Unfortunately, they’ve lost a few major clients. In order to keep the company afloat Lucy’s hunting down new clients and Ross Miller is at the top of her list. Trouble is he’s almost impossible to get ahold of, but she knows Ross will be spending Christmas at the family’s lodge in Scotland. She plans to pop over and drop off her proposal and head back to London to spend Christmas alone. However, the weather has other plans for Lucy.

Siblings Ross, Alice and Clemmie are headed back to the family home in Scotland for the holidays.  But pressure to couple up, start producing grandchildren and join in the family business make them anxious about the visit.

Glenda Miller is excited and anxious for her kids to visit, but she’s determined to keep quiet about their relationship status. She loves her children and wants them to be happy no matter how they choose to spend their lives. At eighty-six, Nana Jean, Glenda’s mother-in-law, has no such qualms. If she thinks something should be said to help set the Miller’s on the path to happiness she’s doesn’t mind speaking up. Nana Jean was a hoot and she cracked me the heck up! I loved her straight talking!

In addition to Lucy’s story/POV, there were a few plot lines/POVs here:

Alice Miller, an ER doctor who loves her job, bringing a boyfriend home for the first time and anxious about the message it sends and assumptions her family will make. Alice may be good at her job, but not so great with personal relationships, which puts her romance in jeopardy.

Glenda Miller, patriarch of the Miller clan was such a loving and accepting mother, but worried about driving her kids away. I loved the relationship she had with her husband and mother-in-law!

Clemmie Miller, youngest of the Miller children, a child-care specialist with a big announcement she’s nervous to share. Her romance was one of unrequited love, one of my favorite tropes!

Snowed in for Christmas was such a delight! I loved the big Miller family even with their struggles it was evident they loved each other, and I loved how they all welcomed Lucy in at this vulnerable time in her life. She needed the extra care and love, and a bit of romance, of course!  I love Sarah Morgan’s stories. I’d classify Snowed in for Christmas as part women’s fiction, part romance. Her talented writing brought the characters to life with real-feeling, relatable emotions and I rooted for each and every one of them to find their joy! Loved the dreamy, winter wonderland setting, too! Definite recommend!

4.5 Stars


Book Description:

A family gathering

This Christmas the Miller siblings have one goal—to avoid their well-meaning family’s endless stream of prying questions. Ross, Alice and Clemmie have secrets that they don’t intend to share, and they are relying on each other to deflect attention.

An uninvited guest

Lucy Clarke is facing a Christmas alone and the prospect of losing her job. Unless she can win a major piece of business from Ross Miller, the season promises to be anything but festive. She’ll just deliver her proposal to his family home and then leave. After all, she wouldn’t want to intrude on the Miller family’s perfect Christmas.

A Christmas to remember

When Lucy appears on the Miller family’s snow-covered Highland doorstep, she's mistaken for Ross’s girlfriend. By the time the confusion is cleared up, they're snowed in—she can’t leave, even if she wants to! But does she want to? As secrets spill out like presents from an overstuffed stocking and the chemistry between her and Ross ignites, this is going to be either Lucy's worst Christmas ever or the best mistake of her life.



Monday, September 19, 2022

Review: Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

 

Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson
Publication Date: August 16th 2022 by Berkley
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher 
Rating: ½
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Phoebe is back in Florida to clean out her estranged father’s house after his death. She also must finish her dissertation for her PhD with the subject of true crime, how the stories have been shaped based on reporting. Her studies and upbringing have taught her to be careful and suspicious of others, a view that isn’t a bad idea these days, IMO, but it’s also kept her from allowing anyone to get close. So, when her next-door neighbor, Sam, hot as he is, offers to help she immediately rebuffs him. However, after a bit of persistence on his part Phoebe gets to know him better, gets closer, and the mutual attraction they feel starts to grow.

I’m a Forensic Files/Dateline/true crime junkie as well so I appreciated all the references and I’m totally on board with being cautious. Phoebe had a lot of baggage from her parent’s ugly divorce, and the way her father treated her growing up. I did feel bad for Phoebe, but her prickliness got to me, and I had a hard time connecting to her. I adored Sam, he was a sweetheart and I wondered at times why he was interested. Phoebe’s brother, Connor, was a fun, nerdy, likeable character as well, and I was pleased how Phoebe was truly sweet to him. They had a great relationship despite the fact they were separated for a lot after the divorce.

Despite my issues with Phoebe and the fact I thought the story could’ve been edited down a bit, I did enjoy Love in the Time of Serial Killers overall. There was some fun, laugh-out-loud moments, and the romance was sweet and steamy.

3.5 Stars


Book Description:

Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.

PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.

It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). It’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.



Thursday, September 15, 2022

Review: First Born by Will Dean

 

First Born by Will Dean
Publication Date: July 7th 2022 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 

My Thoughts:
Molly Raven’s twin Katie has been found dead in her apartment a continent away. So, for the first time in her life she’s leaving England bound for New York in search of answers.

I was immediately sucked into Molly’s tale. She’s hyper-focused on preparing for any disaster or accident. Arranging and embarking on her trip takes a lot of effort and thought. It seems like she has all the angles covered and before you know it, she’s in New York trying to piece together the clues, find out who is responsible. Right away there’s several suspects, and Molly sets out on some amateur sleuthing, first by methodically tracking each person down.

While Katie and Molly were identically physically, they couldn’t be more different mentally. It was clear Molly had anxiety and social issues.  An extrovert, cautious about everything.  Katie was the exact opposite, a complete extrovert, taking life by the horns most times as with the case of leaving everything behind to go to school in New York. A decision that didn’t go over well with Molly.

Molly stretches out of her comfort zone to re-trace Katie’s steps, and it’s a bit of a zing to in a way live Katie’s exciting life.

First Born was addictive from the first page. It was a trip being in Molly’s obsessive mind, but I kind of liked her hypervigilance. You do never know when you might be faced with a threat, either by human or environment so I like being prepared if possible. As Molly talks to the people in Katie’s life, I wondered right along with Molly who could’ve had motive enough to kill her. Not all is as it seems, and I was surprised by the twists written! I had to wrap my brain around one for sure! A suspenseful read that kept me on the edge guessing! A definite recommend!  

4 Stars


Book Description:

From the acclaimed author of The Last Thing to Burn, a psychological thriller about the dark secrets that emerge when a woman’s twin sister is murdered, with his signature “intense, gripping, taut, terrifying, moving, and brilliant” (Lisa Jewell, #1 New York Times bestselling author) prose.

Sisters. Soulmates. Strangers.

Molly Raven lives a quiet, structured life in London, finding comfort in security and routine. Her identical twin Katie, living in New York, is the exact opposite: outgoing, spontaneous, and adventurous.

But when Molly hears that Katie has died, possibly murdered, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. As terrifying as it is, she knows she must travel across the ocean and find out what happened. But as she tracks her twin’s final movements, cracks begin to emerge, and she slowly realizes her sister was not who she thought she was and there’s a dangerous web of deceit surrounding the two of them.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Review & Excerpt: Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

 

Barbarian Mine (Ice Planet Barbarians #4) by Ruby Dixon
Publication Date: September 13th 2022 by Berkley Books
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher 
Rating: 

My Thoughts:
Harlow was abducted by horrible green alien men who kidnapped a bunch of Earth women to sell/trade, who knows what, to other planets. They are truly awful, but thankfully, they crash on an icy planet they’ve dubbed “Not-Hoth”, like in Star Wars, because of its similarity to the fictional planet. Here they discover an alien race called the sa-khui dying out because of the lack of females. See where this is going? Fortunately, somehow the human females on the crashed ship are able to “resonate” and mate with the male sa-khui and there have already been a few mated pairs in the last books. Harlow hasn’t mated yet, but she’s happy to be on Not-Hoth all the same because on Earth she had terminal brain cancer that has been eradicated by the khui placed in her to make living on the planet possible. However, while out on a exhibition she is kidnapped by another sa-khui male, a sort of Tarzan Barbarian because he’s grown up away from the main tribe and has limited speaking or social skills. Of course, they “resonate” to each other meaning they’re mates.

I read the first two books a few years ago and loved the stories, but the Special Edition prompted me to dive back in and read Harlow and Rukh’s story. I really enjoyed getting back into this world! Rukh is so uncivilized, but sweet and entirely devoted to Harlow! He had his own sad story. I was captivated as they learned to communicate and Harlow educated him on more civilized living, and in ways of romance. Very spicy romance! They grow close, but life out alone comes with dangers they have to face and they may not be able to overcome all of them on their own.

As with the previous books, Barbarian Mine is some hot stuff, and was a quick, fun read, but there is bonus material in the Special Edition. The extra story “Fathers”, Harlow and Rukh’s Honeymoon that was previously a separate additional short story and a guide with characters and explanation of the backstory. I loved all the extra material, both the epilogue and short story touched my heart! The guide is really helpful. Still, I’d start from the beginning with this series.

4 Stars




Excerpt:

Harlow

I need two poles for a travois. Two. No problem. There's got to be trees in the distance, and I'm strong and whole.

Okay. I can do this. I can.

Aehako's instructions ring through my mind, over and over. We need to make a travois and take Haeden back to the healer. My heart races wildly in my chest as I sprint through the snow, looking for the thin, pink, wispy trees of this planet. Kira's gone, and both aliens are wounded. They need my help, and I can't let them down. I don't know why they don't go back to the alien ship and get healed. They don't trust it, and I guess I understand that. I'm used to technology, and it still freaks me out to think of the cold, emotionless voice of the computer.

Also, I know what it's like to fear the doctor.

My feet sink into the snow with each step, and my leather boots quickly become sodden. There's no time to fix them or reinforce the insides with warm dvisti fur. Time is of the essence. I trudge forward over a drift-covered hill, and when I see the pink, wispy eyelashes of trees in the distance, I pick up the pace.

Almost there.

I have Haeden's knife, since he's too wounded to use it. The bone handle is smooth in my hand, though it's a little too big for my human-sized palm to grip comfortably. Everything here on Not-Hoth is sa-khui sized. I'm a decent height for a girl, but the average person on this planet seems to be seven feet tall, and the snows are deep, the caves huge. Really, everything feels just a wee bit too big. It's like I've been transported to a Goldilocks house, except instead of just right, everything's too large.

It's just one more thing I must adjust to in an endless stream of new and frightening things.

Weeks ago, I went to sleep in my own bed, and the biggest concern on my mind was when I'd start my chemo. Then, a few weird dreams later, I woke up, shivering and weak, pulled from a tube and told I'd been abducted by aliens.

Which would have been hard to believe except that I'd come from Houston, Texas, and my air conditioner had gone out, so I'd spent the evening sweating and praying the repairman would come by soon. When I'd woken up? It had been so cold my bare feet had stuck to the metal floors, and strange blue aliens occasionally entered to chat with the humans.

It's hard to call someone a liar when they're seven feet tall, blue, and horned. After seeing that, I had to believe. And even though sometimes I want to pinch myself until I wake up, I have to accept the fact that I'm now living on a snow planet with no chance of getting home, and I'm infected with an alien parasite that allows me to endure the harsh conditions of Not-Hoth. Not exactly how I'd visualized my future at all.

But . . . at least I have a future.

According to the ship's medical computers, I'm cancer-free now. I don't know if it's wrong, or if it's Not-Hoth's atmosphere or the new "cootie" (as some of the girls call it) living in my chest.

All I know is that the inoperable brain tumor isn't showing up in scans. And for the first time in the last year, I have hope.

But first . . . a travois.

When I get to the trees, I move to the closest one and touch the bark with my fingertips. It feels spongy and damp despite the chill in the air, and not sturdy enough to support a massive, muscled alien. I have no idea if this will work, but I'll give it a shot. I owe the sa-khui my life, and so I'm going to do my best to help Haeden and Aehako.

Kneeling down, I begin to hack at the base of the first tree. The knife sinks in with a squishing noise, and sap squirts out onto the snow. Ugh. I wrinkle my nose and keep cutting, determined. Kira's gone, and they're wounded, so I'm the only one that can help.

The snow crunches nearby.

I stand upright, surprised. It almost sounded like a footstep. "Hello?" I turn around and look. "Aehako?"

No one's there. The snowy landscape is barren, nothing but rolling drifts as far as the eye can see.

I must be imagining things. I'm not alone out here in the wild. There're creatures everywhere, or so the hunters tell me. It could be one of the porcupine-looking things. Or maybe it's a rabbit. Or . . . whatever the rabbit equivalent on this planet is.

I can't be a silly chicken and freak out at every little sound, though. I turn back to the tree and continue hacking at it.

I hear the crunch of snow again, and a moment later, a heavy thudding. My blood feels like it's surging in my ears, and I press a hand to my head, wincing.

No, wait. That's not thudding or drumming. My heart is calm. Is it . . . purring?

Something slams into the back of my head, and I pitch forward into darkness.

Even there, the strange purring follows me.



Book Description:

The fourth novel in the international publishing phenomenon the Ice Planet Barbarians series, now in a special print edition with bonus materials and an exclusive epilogue!

Harlow receives the shock of her life when she wakes up to see Rukh, a stranger who has clearly been on his own his whole life, but she soon learns that there is much more to this gruff, barbaric alien than the savage he appears to be.

The ice planet has given me a second lease on life, so I'm thrilled to be here. Sure, there are no cheeseburgers, but I'm healthy and ready to be a productive member of the small tribe. What I didn't anticipate? That there'd be a savage stranger waiting nearby, watching me. And when he takes me captive, the unthinkable happens...I resonate to him.

Resonance means mating, and children...but I don't know if this guy's ever been around anyone before. Rukh is utterly wild. He's completely uncivilized, can't speak more than a few words and doesn't know what clothes are. A human--a human woman--is mystifying to him. He's truly a barbarian in all ways, and like Tarzan in the stories, he's kidnapped me and claimed me for his own.

Being with him means I'm going to have to teach him to speak, how to kiss, and how to be human. Or even alien. It should be a terrifying prospect...so why is it that I crave his touch and hunger for more?

About the author:
Ruby Dixon is an author of all things science fiction romance. She is a Sagittarius, a Reylo shipper, and loves farming sims (but not actual housework). She lives in the South with her husband and a couple of geriatric cats, and can't think of anything else to put in her biography. Truly, she is boring.