Book Blitz with Review: Contract to Wed by Holly Bush


Contract to Wed by Holly Bush

(Crawford Family 2)


Publisher & Release Date: Holly Bush Books, February 5, 2015

Time and setting: 1891, Texas

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 291

Heat Level: 1 scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.5 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Crawford Family Series: Book 2 – 1891 . . . Jolene Crawford Crenshaw, heiress and Boston socialite, went from her family home directly to Landonmore upon her marriage, the mansion she shared with her handsome and charismatic husband. She’d never in her life worried in the slightest over anything as crass as the dollars required to maintain that home or the lifestyle she’d been born to. Her extensive yearly wardrobe, the stables and the prime horseflesh within it, even the solid silver forks and knives that graced her table, were expected and required to maintain the social standing that she’d cultivated over the years. But suddenly she was a widow with little money and just her pride and her secrets to keep her upright. 

Max Shelby made his fortune in oil wells and cattle but lost the love of his life the day his wife died, over ten years ago. Now, his happy, carefree, little girl needs instruction and guidance as she grows into a young lady and his dream of becoming a Senator from his adopted state of Texas seems out of reach with few political or social connections. The right wife would solve both problems. As it happens his sister knows of a woman, a recent widow, charming, beautiful and socially astute, but in reduced circumstances, who may want to begin again. Max signed the wedding contract sight unseen. 

Will Jolene be able to shed her sorrows, anger and fears to begin anew away from the censure and hidden tragedy that marred her life? Is her new husband, confident, strong and capable Max Shelby, the man, the only man, to see past her masks to find the woman beneath? 

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Vikki’s Musings

I first discovered Holly Bush when I read Train Station Bride, and I have been a fan ever since. When I realized Contract to Wed is a follow-up to Train Station Bride, I eagerly agreed to accept it in exchange for an honest review. This is a fantastic addition to the series.

At the reading of her late husband’s will, Jolene Crawford Crenshaw finds out the man has left most of the fortune she brought to the marriage to a child named Jillian. While she will have an adequate annual income, it will not keep her in her customary lifestyle as a pampered Bostonian socialite. When an offer to wed a Texas rancher is presented to her, Jolene accepts and makes the trip to Texas.

When Maximillian Shelby meets the woman he married by proxy for the first time, he is immediately drawn to her cool beauty. When it quickly becomes apparent, she does not want an affectionate union, he is just as determined to have one, not only for their sakes but for the sake of his twelve-year-old daughter, Melinda.

Wil Max break through the insurmountable walls surrounding Jolene’s heart, teaching her that love is worth the risk, or will she remain a stiff, emotionless woman chained to her past?

Contract to Wed is a well-written and emotionally-charged read from the first page to the last. The characters are engaging and the storyline is easy to follow. It is fast-paced with just the right amount of dialogue to balance the narrative.

Jolene’s character is not easy to love. She has such a cold, withdrawn demeanor throughout most of the book. However, she did gain my empathy from the first page. By the end of the story, I very much wanted her to have her happy ending. There is excellent depth to Jolene, which makes her a very complex character. Whether I ever truly fell in love with her or not, did not matter. Her personality is compelling regardless. It takes a skilled writer to get the reader enmeshed with a character that is hard to like.

Max, on the other hand, stole my heart, and so did his daughter, Melinda. She is a pure delight, so fun-loving and such a free spirit. Max is honorable, loyal and dependable, but not in a dull way at all. It’s refreshing to find a hero who is not a womanizer for a change while still being an alpha male. His love and care of his daughter says a great deal about his character.

What I loved most about the story is the journey Jolene takes, to go from such an unlikeable character to one I respected and admired. When Max breaks through her tough shell, you find a woman trying to deal with a bad hand of cards, from her detestable mother, to her weak late husband, to the loss of her dear little William. She has quite a few reasons to be so determined to never love again.

I thoroughly enjoyed Contract to Wed. This book will appeal to anyone who likes a character who grows a great deal. The character arch is fantastic! The romance is deep and passionate as well. I highly recommend this excellent story. I’m sure you will enjoy it as much as I did. I can’t wait for the next book in this great series. Happy reading!


“Thank you for coming to see me this morning, Jolene,” Calvin Billings said as he assisted her into the red leather chair across from his desk.

“The reading of the will, I understand, is not until Wednesday morning,” Jolene replied and straightened the folds of her black silk skirt. “I’m curious to hear what prompted this meeting.”

“I’m not sure I should have asked you here to tell you what I’m going to tell you,” Calvin said as he shook his head. “Turner’s will was very specific.”

Jolene shrugged. “Don’t put yourself out for me, Calvin.”

The attorney was silent a long moment and then leaned forward. “I wanted to talk to you about some of the details of Turner’s will before Wednesday’s meeting so that you can process it privately, rather than in a room full of people.”

“What details?”

Billings sorted through papers laid out before him on his massive gleaming desktop. He settled on one and looked at Jolene over the tops of his glasses. “The bulk of Turner’s estate will be settled on one, Jillian Crawford Shelling currently residing with your sister in South Dakota.”

“I don’t understand,” Jolene said.

“A little over fifty million dollars will be set aside in an estate for Miss Shelling, overseen by myself and her step-father, Jake Shelling, as executors. Various charities will receive an amount totaling nearly one million dollars. Family members, including Turner’s mother, brother, nephews, and your sister Jennifer, have been gifted annual annuities. In addition, his mother’s home expenses will be taken care of for as long as she lives. A few servants and his secretary have been given lump sums ranging from fifty to one hundred thousand dollars.”

Jolene stared at her gloved hands lying in her lap. She picked at a stray thread in the crocheting and thought she’d have to correct Alice for handing these particular gloves to her to wear. But perhaps she’d best let Alice alone on this error. Perhaps she’d best contemplate what Calvin had just said. She looked up at him.

“He has gifted our fortune, my fortune as well, to Jillian? Did he not understand that he would have still been a clerk in my father’s bank had he not married me? Did he forget what I did for him? He would have been nothing without me. I made him!”

Author Bio & Links:


Holly Bush writes historical romance set on the American Prairie, in Victorian England, and recently released her first Women’s Fiction title. Her books are described as emotional, with heartfelt, sexy romance. She makes her home with her husband in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Connect with Holly at and on Twitter @hollybushbooks and on Facebook at Holly Bush.

Twitter – @hollybushbooks

Facebook –!/pages/Holly-Bush/247399131941435

Amazon Author Page:


Book Review: Written in the Cards by Lauren Linwood

Written in the Cards by Lauren Linwood

Written in the cardsPublisher & Release Date: Sole Mate Publishing, May 20, 2014

Time and setting: 1867 – 1875, Kansas

Genre: Historical Western Romance

Length: 260 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4.25 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Maggie Rutherford jilts her too-perfect society groom at the altar and flees New York for the American West. There she turns her travels into dime novels that she writes and illustrates under the pen name Lud Madison. 

After the Civil War, veteran Ben Morgan marries his childhood sweetheart and takes her to homestead on the Great Plains. Losing her and their unborn child in an Indian attack, Ben detaches from emotion and becomes a roaming gambler. When he kills a cheating opponent in self-defense, the man’s gunslinger brother swears revenge upon Ben.

Ben hides on a cattle drive and brings in a herd to Abilene, where a waiting Maggie wants to find a rough and tumble cowboy to interview for her next story idea. Sparks fly as the dangerous drover and popular novelist wind up living in the same household, running a general store east of Abilene. But with Black Tex Lonnegan hot on his trail, will Ben run from his growing attraction to Maggie and the gunfighter’s promise of death–or will he make a stand for his life–and love?

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Vikki’s Musings

This is the first western romance I have read by Lauren Linwood. I’ve read other sub-genres by her, though and enjoyed them a great deal. When Ms. Linwood asked me to read and review Written in the Cards, I happily agreed. This book is another fine example of her writing style, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

On the day of her wedding, Maggie Rutherford receives information that has her leaving her intended standing at the altar watching as she flees. She travels west, leaving her old life behind her to pursue her writing career and visit the places she writes of in her books.

Ben Morgan lost his wife and unborn child in the most horrific way. For the past six years, he has gambled his way from one state to the other. When he runs afoul of a notorious gunslinger, he chooses a different path, signing on with a cattle drive that takes him to Abilene, Kansas, a town close to his brother.

Ben meets the enthralling Maggie when she interviews him for her next book, and he is drawn to her in a way that has never happened before. When the couple is thrown together, the sparks fly. Will Ben give up his wandering ways for the charming Maggie, or will he move on?

One thing a particularly liked about this story is that I was immediately thrown into an intensely emotional scene with the hero. That pulled me in, and I felt immense empathy for him. That is always a great start to a book. Written in the Cards is fast-paced, and pulled on my heart-strings a number of times.

The characters are endearing, from the heroine, a feisty, independent woman, to the adorable little girl, Jennie. Ms. Linwood brought all her characters to life, giving them surprising depth. Her emotionally-charged writing put me right in the middle of the scenes in the book.

As I mentioned already, the first scene helped me immediately bound to Ben, and as I delved into his character, I fell in love with his sense of honor and loyalty. He is a strong alpha male, not afraid to show his feelings for not only the heroine, but his sister-in-law and his sweet little niece, who also stole my heart.

Maggie Rutherford’s bold character pulled me in and had me rooting for her from her opening scene. I loved her determination to forge her own path, which went against the stereotype for women during the 1870s. While she is a very strong character, she still possessed all the nurturing characteristics I enjoy in my heroine.

If you are looking for a great western romance with enchanting characters and a strong plot, then you will enjoy Written in the Cards as much as I did. If you have never read any of Lauren Linwood’s books, this is a fantastic one to read first, next would be Music for my Soul, a medieval romance by her that I loved. Happy reading!

Book Review: The Widow’s Choice by Hildie McQueen

The Widow’s Choice by Hildie McQueen

(Brides of Colter Valley, Book 1)

The Widow's choice

Publisher & Release Date: Pink Door Publishing, August 4, 2015

Time and setting: 1860, Montana

Genre: Historical Western Romance

Length: 115 pages

Heat Level: 1 Scorching Hot Flame

Rating: 4 Gold Crowns

Book Description:

Comely widow Charlotte Kennedy is in over her head. Between running a huge ranch and keeping a cruel rancher at arms length, she doesn’t need the added distraction of romance.

Colter Valley calls to Rafe Preston, who decides to purchase land and settle there. When he accepts a temporary job at a beautiful widow’s ranch, he has no idea how much it will impact his plans.

Passion, deception and treachery, blend into a beautiful love story, set in 1860s Montana Territory.

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Vikki’s Musings

This is not the first book I have read by Hildie McQueen, and it will not be the last. I’ve been hooked on her writing ever since I read Where the Four Winds Collide. Whether she is writing a Scottish Highland romance, a contemporary one, or a sweet western, she will delight a reader’s heart. The Widow’s Choice is a sweet western romance with a strong heroine and an amazing hero. This is a great start on a new series for Ms. McQueen and I look forward to reading Jerrick’s story.

While getting the lay of the land before he buys a ranch in Colter Valley, Rafe Preston accepts a job working for the widow, Charlotte Kennedy, known as Charlie by all her close friends. At first the lovely widow keeps her distance, but as attraction grows between the couple, love flourishes.

When danger comes a calling, Rafe rushes in to save Charlie, but will he make it in time, or lose the only woman he can ever love?

Not only does McQueen write unforgettable characters, she writes interesting secondary characters that enliven her stories. That is the case with The Widow’s Choice, from the cantankerous Joe to the sweet-natured Mary Ellen. This is definitely going to be a delightful series centered on a cast of characters in Colter Valley, a close knit community.

If you enjoy a traditional western romance with the added benefit of a little bit of sensuality and a great “happily ever after” at the end, then you will enjoy The Widow’s Choice, as much as I did. Happy reading!

Author Bio:Hildie McQueen

I write Historical Western Romance as well as Paranormal Romance, with a touch of Historical here and there. I’ve also published eight Highlander Historical Erotic short stories. I am a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as Georgia Romance Writers and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Chapters of RWA.

For fun I spend a lot of time with my girlfriends. My wonderful hubby is my partner in crime for traveling. We love to jump in the car or sometimes his motorcycle and head to the mountains, the city or the beach.

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