Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lucky 13 by Cat Gardiner + Giveaway!!

I cannot begin to express how excited I am to have author Cat Gardiner visiting Leatherbound Reviews today. From what little we have be talking online, I can tell she has a heart of gold, cares deeply for others, and would make a totally rockin' friend. 
Just the other day, I began reading Lucky 13, and let me just say, this is a book I do not want to put down. We are leaving today for the weekend, and I still have yet to pack the kids' clothes or mine, and it is all because I do not want to stop reading Liz and Darcy's story. 
Today, Cat talks about friendship and its role in her life and in Lucky 13. Cat is also offering a copy of Lucky 13 for you to win for your dear friend. See below for more details!

Thankful for Friendship

“With that said, it seemed appropriate that on Thanksgiving Day I was mindful of what I had to be thankful.  I’m blessed with the loving sisterly-friendship bonds of Jane and Charlotte.”  ~Prologue, Lucky 13

It all began on Thanksgiving … Elizabeth’s decision to embark on a 26-day mad-cap dating blitz.  Maybe you’ve experience dating madness at some point in your life or maybe finding your soul mate came easily, but I guarantee you there was a dear friend beside you – even if that friend was a sister or a mother.  Maybe she was with you the night when your eyes locked with Mr. Right’s across the bar, or perhaps she was the one who set you up on the blind date.  Maybe she was on the other end of the telephone when you squealed, “I met a great guy!”  Perhaps, she’s now helping you navigate the ins and outs with advice.  The point is – a dear friend is a special gift when it comes to matters of the heart.  Why?  Because a true friend who cares that much will need to know that the person she “passes the torch to” better be damned-near perfect for the likes of her BFF.
Years ago, I was blessed to have close friends there beside me through my dating journey.  Some are still in my life, others have gone where life has led them, but I’ll never forget them and remain thankful to them for the gift of their friendship, support, and strength.  I hope they, too, have fond memories.
Lucky 13’s Liz is truly blessed to have two BFFs: her sister Jane and childhood friend Charlotte, two women who desire above all things to see her find happiness in companionship. Jane wishes Elizabeth could find a love like she has found in her fiancĂ© Charlie.

Chapter Three
“Charlie do you know anyone we can set Lizzy up with?”
Muffled words of foaming toothpaste replied, “Are you eating those chocolates before bed? Man, Janie you’re insatiable.”
“Don’t blame me – you’re the one who brought them home. Do you know someone? I think Lizzy is really lonely this time of year, and I would hate to see her sitting by herself again at Christmas dinner. She puts on a good front, but I know it’s bothering her and my mother just makes it worse. You heard her at Thanksgiving, she was merciless toward Lizzy.”

Charlotte wants Elizabeth to heal the dating scars of her past by giving one man in particular a chance: Fitzwilliam Darcy.  Sometimes, though, being a friend means tough love, strong actions, and every once in a while a good swift kick in the backside, and Charlotte delivers.

Chapter Six
With only minutes before Rick’s arrival with Darcy, she had to work fast if that hunky man was going to get knocked on his butt a second time and make him forget their horrific first meeting. “Shut up and let me work here. We only have a few minutes to transform you from schoolmarm to vixen.”
Ever prepared, she withdrew a sewing kit from her handbag, removing a tiny pair of scissors, and held them before her friend’s eyes. “If you scream or say one word, I’m going to tell your mother that you’re my lover and you strap it on.”
With a few well-placed snips to the neckline facing at her dĂ©colletage, the offending ruffle separated and abruptly was tossed onto the floor like a hot potato. Looking at newly visible mounds, Charlotte ordered, “Pull your girls up.”
“I don’t like this, Char. Please don’t ruin this dress – Jane is going to kill me.”
“You don’t have to like it. You just have to go along with it. Santa’s not going to bring you a blessed thing unless you ask for it, and once altered properly, this dress’ll ask for it – and you’ll get it. Before the night is over, you’ll be sitting on Santa’s lap.”
Finally acquiescing, Elizabeth reached into her bra, acknowledging that when her best friend was determined about anything, there was no stopping her.
With a knowing smirk she inquired, “Are you going to tell me about that hickey?”
Charlotte toyed with the sleeves of the dress. Snip, snip, snip – off with the sleeves at the shoulder seam.
“Let’s just say, I had a date last night.”
She withdrew hem tape from the handbag and made a nice finished edge at her shoulder bone. Finally, she knelt on the floor and, using the tape again, drew the skirt up another three inches, displaying her friend’s long, beautiful legs.
“A date with Rick?”
“No comment – we’re focusing on your love life tonight, not mine.”
At last, turning to the sink, she rummaged through Elizabeth’s handbag and withdrew the small emergency contact lens case she had recently begun to carry. “Off with the glasses, now.”
“Char … I …”
“Now, Lizzy. Do you want to go solo to Jane’s wedding or not?”

Or here, when our girl needs that swift kick:

Chapter Nineteen
Elizabeth wrenched her arm from Charlotte’s grasp. “It’s over – this whole dating nightmare is over! I failed at my endeavor and that’s that. This wasn’t what I had planned.”
Charlotte heard her mumble under her breath, "I'll just go alone."
“Stop with the pity party! This isn’t about finding a Christmas date any longer! This is about healing those scars my arrogant brother caused and you giving into the yearnings of your heart for the first time in seven years. This is about your soul mate! Darcy is your soul mate, and you know it! You love him, and he’s in love with you.”

Of course, Elizabeth didn’t listen and went on to have her Hunsford followed by an even bigger pity party of sugar cookies and watching “It’s A Wonderful Life,” on continuous loop.  However, there, in her darkness was her BFF on the other end of the telephone.

Chapter Twenty
“Thanks for everything. Thanks for being more than just a good friend and my support system during all this craziness. You’re a real sister to me - you always have been, and I just want you to know that if nothing comes of this experience other your happiness with Rick, then it’s been worth it.”
“Aww, thanks. You’re my sister too. I’d do anything for you and screwing Preppy has been the unexpected reward.” Charlotte giggled. “Now stop being such a hung over, depressed sap and get your ass off that sofa.”

Friends.  They help us navigate life with a measure of sanity.  They talk us down from the ledge when we’re acting irrational, and they provide that necessary remedy of laughter when we need it most.  We are all the same – emotional, sensitive, strong, overwhelmed, overworked and in need of the same things – love and friendship, joy and peace.  If we didn’t need those four things, we would be unthinking, unfeeling robots functioning unfazed within a demanding and complex world.  How sad that would be. 

True friendship gives us the opportunity to love unconditionally and share intimately in the joys and trials of their life.  Lift up rather than tear down. A dear friend once told me that her mother’s advice to her was “the bonds of friendship are strengthened when we accept our friend for who they are and not try to change them.” She has been my ami for twenty years. 

Yes, Lucky 13 is about one woman’s quest for a Christmas date and one man’s determination to be that date for the rest of their lives, but at its core, Lucky 13 is about friendship.  It is the basis of the story when dear friends of old work together with new friends to bring about a special holiday season for the ones they care for.

I am sure Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam would agree with me when I say, if it wasn’t for the tight bonds of two friendships formed through the JAFF world, I truly do not believe I would have come this far in my journey. 

A beta relationship grew to a sisterhood friendship, where literally she played the role of Charlotte in Lucky 13, even writing Char’s blog posts!  Within the novel and blog, there are, actually, very pointed messages to one another.  Sheryl talks me down from the anxiety ledge and believes in me as well as every project we have embarked on together.  Further – if it’s crap – she’ll tell me.  That’s more than the New York way.  That’s the way of an honest friendship.  We make each other laugh, and her life, her gifts, her example, inspire me to be a better woman.  She is my BFF.  The other dear friendship grew online with fellow author, Pamela Lynne.  From the very start of our relationship, I knew she was special, talented, and intelligent, and then I met her.  Her personal achievements, strength, and determination help me to see that all things are possible. Her heart of gold and quick wit has given me strength to get through this publishing craziness. Together we have formed Vanity & Pride Press where we focus on the other, not on ourselves.  We try to keep our “vanity and pride’ in check with a ton of self-deprecation and laughter!  Is it a coincidence that her debut novel is entitled Dearest Friends?  I believe there is no such thing as coincidences.

Every day, I feel unworthy to know and to have such incredible women in my life. Therefore, like Liz, on this Thanksgiving, I am mindful of what I had to be thankful. I’m blessed with the loving sisterly-friendship bonds of Sheryl and Pamela.

So let’s talk about your friends.  Tell me how thankful you are.  Show your thanks for your BFF by entering her into Lucky 13’s Giveaway. One winner will receive a signed, gift wrapped, paperback of Lucky 13, shipped by me directly to your BFF. A special hang tag with your personal inscription to her will be included. 

Thank you, Jakki, for the opportunity to talk about friendship and to introduce your followers to what I love most about Lucky 13.  I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving – and of course, I hope you all Get Lucky!

What a great post! Thank you so much, Cat, for the sweet post and excerpts, especially chapter six. That's a particular favorite of mine! 


In honor of Elizabeth Bennet beginning her dating journey, Cat Gardiner is having a ONE-DAY SALE on Lukcy 13. Go to SMASHWORDS and enter code SH34X and you will score Lucky 13 for only $3.50. That is 50% off retail price! 
This sale is ONLY good for Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27, 2014). 
Don't delay; grab your copy today!


In keeping with the theme of Lucky 13, Cat Gardiner is giving away ONE (1) paperback copy to a friend of one lucky commenter. 
The winner will be winning the book for a friend. Cat Gardiner will gift wrap the book and send it to the winner's chosen friend with a special inscription from the winner.
Open Internationally!!
How cool is that?!
To enter, please leave a comment for Cat about the post. Tell us how a friend has helped you find a date, true love, or helped you out in a time of need. Or simply comment on the book.
Giveaway ends December 4, 2014!
Good Luck! :)

Connect with Cat Gardiner
Read It Now!
Kindle | B&N

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winner: Dearest Friends by Pamela Lynne

Michelle F.!!

Congratulations, Michelle!! I will be contacting you soon to get your information! I hope you enjoy Dearest Friends by Pamela Lynne!

I want to thank each of you readers as well. Thank you for commenting and supporting Pamela Lynne Dearest Friends

And a final thanks to Pamela Lynne for providing such a wonderful excerpt and giveaway for the readers. 

If you did not win and still wish to win a copy of Dearest Friends, you can head over to Babblings of a Bookworm where Pamela Lynne visits Ceri and is offering another copy for giveaway!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Falmouth Connection by Joana Starnes + Giveaway

I am pleased to welcome Joana Starnes back to Leatherbound Reviews! Joana has recently published her latest novel, The Falmouth Connection. For your reading pleasure, Ms. Starnes talks about villains and provides you with quite an engaging excerpt. Enjoy!

Mr. Darcy Vs. The Perfect Villain
A Spot of ‘Cloak-and-Dagger’

Thanks, Jakki, for inviting me to Leatherbound Reviews again, it’s such a pleasure and an honour to be here!

I believe this is my last guest-post on ‘The Falmouth Connection’ blog tour, and I thought I’d finish on a rather different note than I began.

If you have visited ‘The Falmouth Connection’ Facebook page, you might have found several different excerpts from the book. If not, there are links on my website and, if you are intrigued, please come and have a look. Some excerpts are humorous, as interactions between Mr. Darcy and his cousin often are. Some are verging on the silly and, needless to say, they feature Lydia and/or Mrs. Bennet. Others are deeply romantic, like a certain kiss in a deserted garden in the middle of the night. But so far none have introduced the villains – and maybe it’s time to remedy that.

I had a rather different villain in mind for ‘The Falmouth Connection’ – but then I remembered a comment from a reader who was wondering why would we ever try to invent new villains, when Jane Austen has provided us with the perfect one?


Ah, yes. Mr. Wickham – the very man we all love to hate!

I must admit that Elizabeth Cohen, another one of my very kind readers, rather hit the spot when she asked if I should start writing stories where Mr. Wickham has some redeeming quality or another, now that I have met Adrian Lukis at the Jane Austen Festival earlier this year and found him to be such a wonderful person and so incredibly tolerant with two young ladies and a matron who frankly should find themselves at the receiving end of a restraining order ;)

Maybe I should consider this one day – or maybe not. For now, I’m rather glad that ‘The Falmouth Connection’ was already written before September and no such dilemmas got in the way.

The story needed a villain – and who can do a better job than Mr. Wickham? Not merely because he is a perfect villain in his own right, but also because we all know that no one can push Mr. Darcy’s buttons quite as effectively as Wickham. Childhood frustrations, which we can only speculate on (and we often do, in our variations), then the very real misdeeds he was guilty of in later years, culminating in the ultimate betrayal of making designs on young and innocent Georgiana. The fact that Elizabeth champions Wickham in the midst of Darcy’s first proposal adds fierce jealousy to the already explosive mix!

But fear not, there are no such explosions in ‘The Falmouth Connection’. Mr. Darcy does not get to make the Hunsford proposal and many changes to the plot occur as a result.

One thing will never change though – and that is the deep aversion that the former childhood playmates now feel for each other. And when they happen to meet with weapons in hand, none would back down – and hang the consequences!

 * * * *

Excerpt from ‘The Falmouth Connection’ Chapter 19

Wickham’s eyes remained trained on his chief opponent, who stood before him poised to lunge and just as carefully assessing his own chances. He grinned and could not deny himself the vast pleasure to taunt his hated adversary.

“Lo and behold,” he sneered. “What have we here? I do believe ‘tis the knight in shining armour armed with a fire-iron! Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Darcy, and ill-prepared as well. How do you think your pitiful poker would fare against my blade?” he sneered again and apparently succeeded in giving the other pause, for he saw Darcy swiftly casting around for a better weapon.

Taking advantage of his foe’s momentary distraction, Wickham lunged and struck but Darcy, devil take him, had impeccable reflexes! The fire-iron parried the vicious blow – and might have also dented his blade in the process, Wickham noted with an oath. Well, be that as it may! Darcy could duel with a poker if it pleased him, but he would have the devil of a job skewering anyone with the blunt, crude weapon, Wickham smirked. Yet his smug self-satisfaction faded once his opponent turned and twisted, skilfully avoided yet another blow and lunged to grab a blade from the positively medieval display that Mrs. Pencarrow had chosen to adorn her great hall with – to Wickham’s detriment and disappointment.


 The damned thing was not even secured on the wall and readily came off the panoply into Darcy’s hand as the maligned poker clattered to the floor.

It seemed it was now Darcy’s turn to goad him.

“You were saying, Wickham?” he shot back with a curl of his lip that his childhood playmate would have dearly loved to reshape with a cutlass.

With a loud grunt, Wickham lunged again, giving his best strike, but blade met blade in yet another parry, and he could only hope that his enemy’s weapon was a mere ornament devoid of substance or blunted by disuse and age.

To his ill-fortune, it was nothing of the sort.

 * *

‘This must be the stuff of nightmares,’ Elizabeth thought, overcome with terror, as the scene before her erupted into violent commotion, the sickening clash of metal against metal echoing in the vast empty hall.

Hands pressed against her mouth in agonising fear, she watched them lunge, thrust, feint and lunge again, the poor light from the few guttering candles making the scene more terrifying still. Not for herself, not for her own safety but his, Good Lord, for his!

How could she have been so blind, so dreadfully blind and dense? Why did she need to see him facing mortal peril to understand at last how much he meant to her? Was she so devoid of reason and imagination that she had to witness this primeval scene before she understood that her whole world would plunge into grief-filled darkness if anything befell him?

 * * * *

For a chance to find out more, please leave a comment to take part in the international giveaway of one e-copy of ‘The Falmouth Connection’.

There are more excerpts available on my website and on the book’s Facebook page, along with images of beautiful Cornwall and of the places that have inspired this story. Please visit and I hope you’ll like what you’ll see.

Thanks again, Jakki, for having me as your guest at Leatherbound Reviews, for your warm welcome and your wonderful support – as always, it’s greatly appreciated!

Thank you, Joana, for a lovely excerpt! I do so love a good sparring scene. And seeing Elizabeth's reaction to it makes it even more enjoyable. 

From the publisher:
Just as Mr. Darcy finally decides to propose to the enticing Miss Elizabeth Bennet, she is summoned to Falmouth, to meet a relation she never knew she had. 

Thus, the ill-starred Hunsford proposal is avoided – but before he could even begin to understand his luck, adverse circumstances hasten to conspire against him, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is compelled to follow the woman he loves to the far reaches of Cornwall, into a world of deceit and peril where few – if any – are what they seem to be…

Joana Starnes is kindly offering ONE (1) e-copy of The Falmouth Connection to one lucky commenter. To enter, please leave a comment for Joana with your Twitter handle or email address. 
Giveaway open internationally!!
Giveaway ends December 1, 2014!
Best of luck!! 

 Connect with Joana Starnes
Read It Now!