Cover Shot! Marooned with the Maverick by Christine Rimmer

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I’m not sure why I like this cover so much, but I do!  There is just something about the rain-drenched couple that makes me want to read Marooned with the Maverick by Christine Rimmer. Is the book as hot as the cover?

In stores June 2013


RUST CREEK RAMBLINGS Seducing the Schoolteacher?

We apologize, dear readers, for our brief hiatus in publication. The offices of the Rust Creek Rambler were damaged in the Great Flood, but we are now filing our reports from a bar stool at the Ace in the Hole. And do we have scandalous news for you!

We have it on good authority that during the storm, gorgeous rapscallion Collin Traub was stranded with our beloved kindergarten teacher Willa Christensen-alone. In a barn. Overnight. No one knows why, but Willa could barely stand the sight of Collin before. And now? Oh, readers-we don’t like to kiss and tell. But our sources tell us that the sexy Rust Creek cowboy has set his sights on lassoing the sweet schoolmarm…for good!

Review: Riding on Air by Maggie Gilbert


Title:  Riding on Air

Author: Maggie Gilbert


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


For readers of Jenny Downham, John Greene and Maureen McCarthy, a poignant young adult romance about following your dreams and realising what really matters.

What can you do when your own hands are the enemy? Hold on tight, for as long as it takes.

Melissa has secrets. Sure it’s pretty obvious she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, but no one knows how bad it is or how many pills she takes for the pain. She’s determined to make her horse Jinx into a champion and she dreams that her childhood friend William will one day see her, rather than her condition.

So when William asks her out and Jinx is shortlisted for selection in an elite training program, it seems Melissa’s dreams have come true. But when her secrets are exposed, all those dreams come crashing down around her. Can William ever forgive her? And can she learn about letting go in time to truly ride on air when it matters most?


One guess why I wanted to read Riding on Air.  Yup, it’s got a horse on the cover.  Riding plays a big, big part of the story, so if you find horses boring, you might have a problem feeling engaged in the plot.  That wasn’t a problem for me!  I immediately felt comfortable with Melissa, and I agonized with her as she stubbornly refuses to give up her one, true love – horseback riding.  Sounds kind of melodramatic, but Melissa’s fears and hopes rang so true for me.  I would be devastated if I had to give up my horses, so I could sympathize with her right away.

As I’m getting ready for the first horse show of the season (which starts on Wednesday), Melissa’s efforts to prepare her horse Jinx for an important dressage show were instantly relatable.  Melissa has one added challenge; she has Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, which makes her joints ache and her fingers burn with pain. I personally can’t imagine riding if my hands were that painful, because contrary to popular belief, you don’t just get on a horse and sit there.  You have to ride every stride.  You have to keep the horse between your hands and your seat, and your hands need to be light and responsive, ready to check the horse back with both your hands and your seat.  If your hands aren’t there for you, you won’t be there for your horse.  Melissa stubbornly refuses to ask for help with Jinx, because she wants to prove that she’s just as normal as anyone else, and because she’s fearful that her parents will forbid her from riding. 

As Melissa’s condition worsens, a bright spot does enter her life.  She’s had a crush on William, a friend of her brothers, forever, and when he asks her out, she is over the moon.  As their relationship begins to bloom, though, she is overcome with doubts. How can William like her, or find her attractive, when her hands are such an ugly mess.  She can’t see beyond her illness, and she believes that nobody else can, either. When she takes a bad fall from Jinx, William tries to make her understand how important she is to him by asking her to stop riding, at least until her fingers aren’t as painful.  In a panic, Melissa accuses him of trying to ruin her life, and of not understanding how important Jinx’s success is to her.  Ouch! As if she doesn’t have enough on her mind, now she’s heartbroken because her boyfriend doesn’t understand her.

I enjoyed Riding on Air a lot.  The horse scenes were authentic, and got me excited about going to a show myself.  Melissa’s struggles to overcome all of the challenges thrown her way were compelling, and kept me engaged in the story.  While I would have liked this book just because of the horsey stuff, what made it a fulfilling read is the personal growth Melissa undergoes.  She begins to re-examine her relationships, and realizes that maybe she’s not being fair to her friends and family.  While they want to help her, she thinks their concerns are stifling her.  It’s only after she’s able to let go of her fierce need for independence that she is finally able to ride on air. 

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Meet Rock Babineaux from Julie Ann Walker’s Thrill Ride and Giveaway!

We have an extra special guest today! Through the magic of the interwebz,  Rock Babineaux, hero of Julie Ann Walker’s Thrill Ride, was able to take a break from his mission in Central America! Everyone thinks he’s gone rogue, so please don’t mention that he was here for a visit!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Rock] *Shifts uncomfortably, and lifts hand to scratch goatee* Simple country boy at heart.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share a typical day in the life of Rock Babineaux?

[Rock] *grins* *starts to relax* Ah, chere, there isn’t anything typical about a day in the life of a Black Knight. I could be knee-deep in a Central American swamp chasing after narcotraficantes. Or I could be sitting out back in the courtyard, strumming my guitar and watching the sun set behind the buildings in Chicago. When you’re on Uncle Sam’s clock, your days tend to be crazier and more unpredictable than a Junebug on a string.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] There are quite a few people who are very upset with you. Can you fill us in on why they are out to get you?

[Rock] *scowls* Now, that’s the question of the hour, isn’t it? According to them, I’ve killed folks. According to them, I’ve gone rogue…

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words come to mind when you think of Vanessa?

[Rock] *grins* *sticks tongue in cheek* Sexy, sassy, and spunky as hell.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was the first thing that you noticed about her?

[Rock] Uh… The truth? *glances around sheepishly* Her world-class derriere. Mon petite ange has got it going on in the booty department. But, seriously, when I stopped playing the Dude Card, I noticed her talent, beauty, and no-holds-barred courage. She’s the bravest woman I’ve ever known.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  How do you feel about her now that you seem stuck with her for the time being?

[Rock] Ha! *slaps knee* Are you kidding me? I feel like the luckiest man on the planet!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Rock] That’s easy. *clenches jaw* I’d never have gotten involved with Rwanda Don. That sonofabitch ruined my life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Rock] It’s two things, actually. A matching pair of SIG Sauer 9mm pistols. A man like me never knows when he’s going to find himself in a tight spot with some bad folks, and it always helps to have a couple ways to affect attitude adjustments in those bad folks. *grins*

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t on the run from the government and your former friends?

[Rock] Now, I’m a born-and-bred Louisiana man, so it’s safe to say I like the simple things in life. Sharing a brew with the folks I love, sitting out on a front porch swing listening to the rain fall on a tin roof, calling up my buddies and throwing an impromptu fais-do-do. That’s pronounced fay-doe-doe for the non-Cajuns out there, and it’s basically just a big ol’ party with music, a crawfish boil, and dancing. *sighs* Nobody does a backyard bash like a Louisianan.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Rock] *grows suddenly serious* World peace and a good woman.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

[Rock] *pushes to feet* *steps forward in scuffed-up alligator boots and extends hand* My pleasure. Thanks for having me on today. *turns and swaggers from room*

[Manga Maniac Cafe} *fans self at sight of said swagger*

Giveaway Time!!

Ready to win a copy of Rev It Up? This is book where readers first meet Rock and Vanessa, hero and heroine of Thrill Ride.  Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following. US addresses only, please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can purchase Thrill Ride and Rev It Up from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:


He’s Gone Rogue…

Ex-navy SEAL Rock Babineaux is as Cajun as they come—spicy, sexy, and more than a bit wicked. But would he actually betray his country? Even his best friends on the special-ops Black Knights team aren’t sure they can trust him. Now the target of a massive manhunt, Rock knows the only way to protect the team—especially his partner, Vanessa—is to run…

She Won’t Back Down…

Rock might think he can outmaneuver them all, but he hasn’t counted on how stubborn Vanessa Cordero can be. And she refuses to cut him loose. Sure, her partner has his secrets, but there’s no one in the world she’d rather have by her side in a tight spot. Which is good because she and Rock are about to get very tight…


Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She’ll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. Look for the first four books in her fast-paced series: Hell On Wheels (August 2012) In Rides Trouble (September 2012) Rev It Up (October 2012) and Thrill Ride (April 2013). For more information, please visit or follow her on Facebook and/or Twitter @JAWalkerAuthor.

To Purchase Thrill Ride

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