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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Romance book talk, reviews, recipes, and dog pictures

Blogger Site: WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

Currently reading

Marry in Scandal
Anne Gracie
Progress: 60%
The Sisters Grimm
Menna van Praag
Progress: 50%
Doctor Sleep
Stephen King

Kyraryker’s quotes

"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips


Investigating what I'm sure turned out to be something bug-ish, squishy, dead, or form of gross.



Beast - Judith Ivory

"I mean, there is a real seduction to having someone listen and know you, accept you just as you are."


More quotes and comments:  Beast buddy read


I cheated and picked this one instead of using random number generator. In honor of National Puppy Day, Raiden at probably around 3 weeks old.



Oh what a pick, in light of how freaking cold it has been here, some very light, but still!, snow flurries last night :(

Raiden enjoying a pool day.



Beast - Judith Ivory

"My guess is, you can never quite get away from the fact of your beauty, that you live by it. But not tonight. Tonight, if you meet me, you will do so in the dark."

More quotes and comments: Beast buddy read

Reading Update: 10%

Beast - Judith Ivory

The hair on Charles's neck lifted.


Doing a buddy read for this one. For more quotes and thoughts:  Beast buddy read


I've tried numerous times to comment on my first Raiden post to thank you all for your warm comments about Raiden but BLs isn't posting them. So, just know I <3 all those comments.


What became one of his favorite stuffies, Herbie and Raiden. 


Total Bravery by Piper J. Drake

Total Bravery (True Heroes #4) - Piper J. Drake

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Mali is in Hawaii doing research for a human rights study focusing on sex trafficking, when her principal investigator blows his alert whistle when her and her colleagues are out doing street interviews, she knows she's in trouble. Her former military sister Arin works on the island, so she calls her for help.

Raul has just been hired by Search and Protect Corps, a job his former colleague and friend Arin helped him get. When he gets a call forwarded from Arin's phone because she is currently on a mission and hears her little sister asking for help, he knows he has to act.

Mali and Raul both have trust issues but as they work to find out what happened to Mali's colleagues, the spark between them is getting harder and harder to ignore.


Her laughter faded, and her dark brown eyes sparkled with mischief. “Well, if you're going to get in trouble anyway...”

She bent then, leaning a hand on his chest, and pressed her lips to his.


Total Bravery, is number four in the True Heroes series but you would have no problem picking this up with no prior knowledge. I've only read the first in the series and I never felt lost. The story brings you into the action right away, which really worked for me in some ways and not in others. Raul's partner is a German Sheppard named Taz and, something that I thought was missing from the first book, the author utilized Taz wonderfully. Even though Mali is running and hiding, the way Taz brings Raul to her started the story off cute and exciting. However, jumping right into the danger that sets up the action plot didn't allow for an introduction to Mali's colleagues. When Mali manages to evade the ominous men in suits that caused the leader of her research group to warn people to run but her colleagues all get kidnapped, I didn't have an emotional stake in their danger or any future reveals pertaining to the characters; nixed a supposed surprise ending thread.


A cold nose touched her thigh, and Taz slipped his head under her hand. The big dog pressed against her leg. Raul murmured gently, “We won't leave you.”


Mali was the stronger of the two characters because of getting more background information on her. She grew-up protected by her older sister and this caused her to look up to her but also have some fear towards the violence Arin exhibited in front of her. We get a scene between the sisters where Mali learns that Arin thinks of her in a way that Mali was clueless about and bolsters her confidence. I wish we could have gotten more scenes between the two because their uneasy but loving relationship provided great complex emotions. The same with Raul and Arin, I would have liked to see these two friends together. As the new guy on the job, Raul didn't have any connections and he didn't seem to have family or other friends than Arin, this left some of the different layers of his character blank for me.


She was doing research because she believed people were worth saving. He'd spent the better part of his last assignment proving to people that there was a hell, and it didn't take demons to send them there.


Mali and Raul had a cute start, even though their first kiss happens very quickly and as Mali's character gets revealed more, it made the first kiss seem out of character for her. Their romance felt pushed to the side a bit too much in favor of the plot to find out who and why Mali's colleagues were taken. The villains behind the sex trafficking plot felt a bit whiffed on with their structure and reveal but maybe since they're close to the Search and Protect corps they will show up again. I'm a dog person and I adored the relationship between Taz and Mali and how Taz worked with Raul; Taz made this book for me. I thought the writing was smooth and the author handled the moving parts well, research felt evident in how scenes and characters were conducted, most importantly, it kept me wanting to read but I didn't fully feel the love building between Raul and Mali. Even in the later half of the story Mali was still not thinking a relationship with Raul would be serious. I wish the ending text messages that Raul sends to Mali would have been shown so we could read and feel more of an emotional connection between the two.


She stared up at him. “I am so glad you're here.”

He smiled then, slow and incredibly sexy.


Each book in the series has a main character paired with a dog (keep hoping for a Rottweiler someday!) and I love that. Trust me, you're going to love Taz, the moment where he shuts a car door during a mission was ridiculously cute and high training impressive. This was the second book in the series I've read and even though I thought the romance relationship between the two could have been better, I enjoyed it even more than the first.



Pets for smiles

Whenever I log on to BookLikes I'll post a pic of Raiden and hopefully that can bring at least a brief smile to a day for someone. I don't know how long this lockdown for everyone is going to go, I can't send everyone a roll of toilet paper and I see wonderful ways others are reaching out, so I'm going to contribute this small way. 


If you have a pet please feel free to unleash any obsessive picture taking for others to enjoy, too.


I'm letting random number generator make the selection for me and I can't tell you how pleased I am that this was the first. 


A birthday party at his daycare that looks like it went sideways.


Reading Update: 50%

Total Bravery (True Heroes #4) - Piper J. Drake

Good morning! Rainy and cloudy in my neck of the woods.
I told Raiden to give me “alert ears” for this pic to match Taz. My Rottie tried :)


Apples, sweet potatoes, and cinnamon to fuel the first half of my day.
Best wishes and health to everyone


Total Bravery by Piper J. Drake purchase link


Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato Breakfast bow recipe


The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The Shape of Family - Shilpi Somaya Gowda

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


When tragedy befalls a family, blame and grief widen the cracks and isolate the remaining members. A mother who misses her culture, a father who is a workaholic, and a daughter who is searching for an outlet for the pain. The Shape of Family is an intimate portrayal of how lost someone can get when a loved one is taken away and how families can grieve together and separately, trying to find their way back to one another.


Everyone in her family had their secrets, and Karina became practiced at keeping them.


Utilizing first person povs, The Shape of Family, jumps povs and time periods (mostly linearly) between Jaya (mother), Keith (father), Karina (daughter/sister), and Prem (son/brother). The story starts introducing the family through Karina's eyes and we learn that she sees it as Prem and her against the world. With an Indian mother and American father, kids at school constantly remark on her skin tone. Her mother is proud of her culture, while Karina sees any hallmark of it as another way to make her different. She's a bit closer to her father because of this issue and while she has a bestfriend Izzy, Karina ultimately sees Prem as the only one who can feel like her and understand.


This sets-up the emotional foundation for when a couple chapters later, Prem drowns in the family pool. Karina is thirteen at the time and watching him while her parents are at work, she performs CPR but is unable to save him. The guilt she feels from this is obvious and as readers follow her throughout her life, this tragedy and guilt is apparent in every decision she makes. We get povs from her parents, Jaya's guilt sends her searching for answers, which she looks for in religion, and Keith's guilt at his inability to keep his wife from depression and daughter from pushing him away has him throwing himself more into his work. The story though, mainly follows Karina.


Mr. and Mrs. Olander,” the officer says as they reach the top landing, her hand on the door handle. “I'm not sure what's happening with your daughter. All I know is she needs your love and support right now.”


Karina tries to handle her grief through cutting but when she goes off to college, she finds relief in becoming a new person, no one knowing about Prem. This pushing away and ignoring those emotions works for awhile, until her first love ends up being her first heartbreak and she once again is lost as to how to deal with her pain. Her vulnerability is taken advantage of and Karina finds, what she thinks of as love and family, in a commune with increasingly cult like actions.


This was a poignant dip into how grief can affect a family individually and as a whole. While we get pov looks into how Jaya and Keith are handling their son's death, I thought there could have been more between the two; they divorce and I thought we missed reading/feeling some of that emotional upheaval. Readers also get Prem's pov after he dies and I'm not sure this worked for me. Except for a crossroads moment towards the end, his pov didn't add anything for me and I think having him completely absent would have made the characters stark cut-off even more felt to the reader.


They are flawed, all three of them, but they belong to each other.


Whims of fate, Keith ended up surviving 9/11 because of a delayed meeting but their son drowns in the family pool, and the fact that there is no set time on how long grief can keep a hold of you, were achingly apparent in this story. The way the characters tried to fill their lives with things that turned out to be empty for them and beginning to see that acknowledging, addressing, and processing their emotions through therapy was helpful to them, was deep and thoughtful. The Shape of Family will have you shedding a tear or two as the Olander family rides the waves of grief.





Restless Rancher by Jennifer Ryan

Restless Rancher: Wild Rose Ranch - Jennifer Ryan
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.



Yes, he’d been humbled, going from living large with money overflowing his bank account to scraping by.


Second in the Wild Rose Ranch series, the troubled Austin is trying to get his life together. I haven't read the first book and I think that really hurt my enjoyment of this. I had no idea who these people were and our heroine, Sonya, with her sisters and family dynamics, seem to be play a big part in the underlining theme and emotion in the series. I think background knowledge on Sonya's family and Austin as a character would have helped my attachment to these characters. This starts with Austin trying to reform his party boy ways because his rich father has cut him off and his girlfriend has dumped him. Austin inherited a ranch from his grandfather but it is dilapidated and needs a lot of money and repair. Sonya comes into the picture because her sister (heroine from book one) is bankrolling Austin's ranch and she is there to manage and run the books for the ranch.


Numbers made sense to her. Everything lined up. People, the things they did, their capacity to hurt others and inflict such cruelties, boggled her mind.


This was a honestly a mess of storylines for me, the beginning focuses for a while on how Austin's grandfather was a hoarder and lingers on the emotional whys of it, Austin's father badly wants the ranch and now his ex-girlfriend is engaged to his father and his father wants the ex to trick Austin into impregnate her, and Austin working on trying to get his act together. Sonya has her own issues with her family, a mother who lived a harsh life, a job that passed her over for promotion, and dealing with her sisters and childhood. There was a scene where Sonya gets angered and in one paragraph spouts a plethora of trigger warning issues that happened to her mother and it felt like heaping awful traumas on a character just for shock or forced emotional value because of the lack of emotional foundation.


She’d stand by whoever she loved. She’d be a true partner. Adversity challenged her, it didn’t back her down.


The romance between the two is fairly instant and not something I completely believed in because of the lack of solid relationship groundwork. They have some good back and forth moments, made better because of the don't back down attitude of Sonya but the constant fluttering between story threads/plots didn't leave enough time for them to develop. The main plot of Austin's dad wanting his ranch so bad could have worked but Austin's forced mishandling of the situation, he didn't seem too curious as to why his dad would want the ranch in the beginning, and him never checking deeds or information about something inherited and carried so much about.


If you read the first, you'd probably enjoy this more then me but I felt disconnected from the characters, there were too many messy storythreads, and the romance moved too quickly without a strong enough foundation. I've other Ryan works before and enjoyed them, I'm going to just count this one as a one-off.


Why do I have damn near 700 new "friends" after not checking for about four days??? Why the sudden influx of spam accounts??? 



Why have I wasted hours trying to clean my friends list up only to see this huge jump??? 

Reading Update: Page 1

The Shape of Family - Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Best wishes Monday to all that may be feeling the pinch and stress. Sinking into this book and a delicious meal to boost the spirits.


The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda purchase link


Chili-Orange Shrimp with Broccoli Couscous recipe

Wild taste combos but delicious!


Reading Update: 20%

Restless Rancher: Wild Rose Ranch - Jennifer Ryan

A cowboy and some cookie pie for those mid-week blues.
Happy hump day, everyone!


Restless Rancher by Jennifer Ryan purchase link


Ricotta Nutella Chocolate Cookie Pie recipe

Very rich filling but the best cookie crust I’ve ever made.


Room 217

The Shining - Stephen King

I think I had more sympathy for Jack this time around, first read this in my teens. Still delivered on the creepy factor with the Room 217 scene and the hedge animals.


Still too bottom heavy with action for me (I get build-up but still didn't work for me), Wendy needed more umph to her character in the first half, and Danny felt more 13yrs old than 6.