Friday, 4 January 2019

BLOG TOUR - REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: CHRISTMAS AND CANNOLIS by PEGGY JAEGER



Christmas & Cannolis
By Peggy Jaeger
The Wild Rose Press
Contemporary Romance
Released December 12th, 2018



With Christmas season in full swing, baker Regina San Valentino is up to her elbows in cake batter and cookie dough. Between running her own business, filling her bursting holiday order book, and managing her crazy Italian family, she's got no time to relax, no room for more custom cake orders, and no desire to find love. A failed marriage and a personal tragedy have convinced her she's better off alone. Then a handsome stranger enters her bakery begging for help. Regina can't find it in her heart to refuse him.

Connor Gilhooly is in a bind. He needs a specialty cake for an upcoming fundraiser and puts himself—and his company's reputation—in Regina's capable hands. What he doesn't plan on is falling for a woman with heartbreak in her eyes or dealing with a wise-guy father and a disapproving family.
Can Regina lay her past to rest and trust the man who's awoken her heart?


BUY LINK: Amazon





In Christmas and Cannolis by Peggy Jaeger, six years after tragedy struck, Regina San Valentino feels like she's finally ready to let the past go, even though she'll never be able to forget she lost the most important person in her life. So, when Connor Gilhooly comes into her bakery asking for her to make a custom cake for an important function, she agrees, even though she's reluctant because making the cake could mean facing things from her past she might not be ready for. But as she and Connor begin to spend time together, she finds herself falling harder and harder. Yet, with her overprotective family, does she have a future with Connor?

What a wonderful, emotionally-driven read Ms. Jaeger has delivered in this delightful holiday read about fighting for independence from an overprotective family, healing from a past loss and finding the love of a lifetime. The way this story started with the tips about surviving an Italian family had me smiling because with her family anyone would need tips on how to survive when around them. They're certainly loud, proud and love to express their opinions when it comes to the heroine's dating or love life. Why does it feel like they're all still punishing her for past mistakes? However, it was from the moment the hero and heroine come face to face for the first time where this story really takes off, as their chemistry is instant and just keeps getting stronger and making me want to read what obstacles these two would have to face to achieve their happy ever after.

As for the dialogue, it was absolutely entertaining and intense due to the main characters back stories, the heroine's fight for her independence as she goes head to head with her family when it comes to their need to interfere in her love life. Will she finally make them understand that they don't need to be so overprotective? Decisions made in her past may have been her need to rebel, but it doesn't mean she'll make the same mistakes again. Really, she's done all she can to get past her grief and move on the best way she knows how by working herself to the bone. 

With the main characters, I loved their back stories and their growing relationship. Ms. Jaeger puts so much emotion into this story that it's hard not to sympathize with both the main characters and cross your fingers hoping these two will achieve their happy ever after, especially with the obstacles they face such as an interfering family that don't know the difference between right and wrong when it comes to wanting to protect Regina. Really, it made me think of that line, 'The wrong thing done for the right reason is still the wrong thing'. Still, Regina hasn't had it easy for six years since she lost the person she loved the most and it's understandable why her family are so protective of her. They're a big, loving, caring, boisterous, interfering Italian family. She's lucky to have them, even with their need to interfere that ends up frustrating her so much.

While the hero, he's so warm and inviting and had me hooked from the moment he was introduced. His need to get to know Regina and help her through tough times was heart-warming and had me loving him the more and more I read, especially since Regina's family isn't easy to deal with and it's no wonder he reacts the way he does at first to what one of her family members does. Do they really think he's that unworthy of Regina's attention?

Overall, Ms. Jaeger has delivered a superb read in this book where emotions run high, the chemistry between this couple was tangible and strong; the romance was delightful and had me loving these two together; and the ending had me liking how Regina and Connor are reunited after their relationship goes awry. However, it was the final chapter I loved the most which helps Regina to fully heal from her past. I would recommend Christmas and Cannolis by Peggy Jaeger, if you enjoy the mysterious strangers trope, holiday themed stories, stories where the main characters have heartbreaking back stories and they help each other to heal; or if you enjoy books by authors Kari Lemor, Marianne Rice,  and Geri Krotow. 





My free hand slid up his jacket, basking in the rich texture of the fabric, to skim across the column of his throat and settle against his cheek. His skin was smooth and clean-shaven, warm and velvety soft against my palm. Connor let go of my arm and slipped his hand down my back. With his fingers pressed against the dip in my spine, he pressed me in even closer. His tongue nipped and sipped at my own as his fingers fanned across my back and kneaded.

Mio Dio.

Who knew the small of your back was such an erogenous zone? He must have first-hand knowledge about a particularly sensitive nerve bundle in that region because my thighs started to tremble and a deep-seated liquid warmth, like warm butter melting over hot morning ciabatta rolls, spread throughout my system. A restlessness for more shunted through me from top to bottom, making me fidget and writhe for release. I think I moaned. Or maybe that was Connor. I wasn’t sure, but one thing I was sure of was that in all the time I’d been married, I’d never felt so turned on by a simple kiss before.

Okay, well, it really wasn’t a simple kiss. More a life-changing event.






Peggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, Peggy brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she has created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

Tying into her love of families, her children's book, THE KINDNESS TALES, was illustrated by her artist mother-in-law.

Peggy holds a master's degree in Nursing Administration and first found publication with several articles she authored on Alzheimer's Disease during her time running an Alzheimer's in-patient care unit during the 1990s.

In 2013, she placed first in two categories in the Dixie Kane Memorial Contest: Single Title Contemporary Romance and Short/Long Contemporary Romance.

In 2017 she came in 3rd in the New England Reader's Choice contest for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and was a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest for the same title.

In 2018, Peggy was a finalist in the HOLT MEDALLION Award and once again in the 2018 Stiletto Contest.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, she is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

Social Media Links:






Topic:  Top 5 scenes with mini excerpts 

* * *

#5. A San Valentino Thanksgiving
           
“Sonny, you say the Grace,” Ma instructed as we all held hands.
My father stood at the head of the table, my mother seated next to him. As was also tradition, my father never sat down to eat in his shirt. A bright white wife- beater I knew he got by the gross at a discount dollar store a friend of his owned was his usual table garb. And by got by the gross, I mean it in the literal way. Pop had crates of the shirts stacked in the garage. It didn’t matter that the rest of us were dressed appropriately. Ever since my memory could be counted on, my father sat at a family table sans his outer shirt. Of course if we were at a restaurant or a fancy function like a wedding, he submitted and left it on for decency’s sake. But with family, all thoughts of decency flew out the storm windows. Since packing on a few extra belly pounds over the past couple years, he’d started wearing suspenders to keep his pants up because he hated the confining feeling of a belt.
“Hold hands and bow ya heads,” Pop instructed. We all complied. Pop looked up at the dining room ceiling. As a kid I’d always wondered if he could see God somewhere floating around the crystal chandelier. “Lord,” he said, focusing on the ceiling stucco, “we want to thank you for this food, made by the wife and paid for by my hard work. We want to thank you for our health, the roofs over our heads, the fact we got no bills, ain’t no one doing time right now, and most of all for the love we share as a family. Bless this food, Lord. Amen.”
A chorus of Amens went around the table. Pop sat, tucked his napkin in his undershirt collar, his suspenders draped over his hairy, beefy arms.
“Petey,” he said to my youngest brother, “pass the macaroni.”
And so we ate.

And ate. 
                                                      

#4 Sonny’s interrogation of Connor

Pop nodded again. “You married?”

“Never been.”

Pop’s eyes narrowed. “Guy respects family so much, I’d think he’d have a wife and kids. I met mine when we was fifteen. Been together every day since.”
“You’re lucky. I guess I just haven’t found the right lady yet.” He gaze flicked to me so quick, I thought I imagined it. When I saw the subtle tug of his lips lifting, I knew I hadn’t.
“What are you, forty? Forty-five? Can’t wait too much longer or you’ll be shooting blanks when it comes to making kids.”
The blood that drained to my toes? It shot straight back up again heating my cheeks like I was standing in one of my baking ovens with the thermostat turned to one thousand degrees Fahrenheit.
“I’m thirty-six.”

“Huh. You look older.”

“It’s the hair. Premature.”

Pop rocked back on his heels. I needed to stop this line of questioning, but for some wacky reason I didn’t. In the two minutes they’d been talking, I’d learned more about this man than I’d known before we’d almost kissed. Connor didn’t seem to mind the interrogation. He stood casually, his hands tucked in the back pockets of his jeans, a look of quiet acceptance on his face, as if he’d been grilled before by an overprotective and prying padre.
“I had an aunt went gray at twenty. Dyed it bright red to cover it up. Scared the living crap outta me every time we visited her, ’cause it looked like her head was on fire.” 

#3 A visit to the bakery
After fifty-plus years of marriage, my mother still stared at my father as if he hung the moon for her. I simply adore this. Who, in this day and age, can boast that their parents still love and honor each other after decades of family strife, deaths, crises, and war, and can gaze at one another as if they were teenagers finding first love?
This is what fantasies are made of.
“Hey, Pop.” I kissed the top of his head and pulled out the empty chair at their table. “What are you doing here?”
“I was out making the rounds and I missed your mama, so I figured I’d come in and steal her away for a few minutes.”
See? I love this. 

#2 Lunch with the sisters-in-law
When we were all set to eat, Trixie glanced at Penny and then cleared her throat.
“I’ve been waiting for that,” I said.
“Wha’?” Trixie’s northern Italian heritage gifted her large, pale blue eyes in a perfect oval of a face. She widened them, and it wasn’t an affectation. Trixie isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.
“That little throat thing you do that signals when you want to say something that makes you nervous.”
“Get out. I don’t do that?” She looked over at Penny. “Do I?”
“Yeah, ya do,” Petey’s wife said.
“Hmm. I never noticed.”
 “We have,” Penny and I said in unison.
Trixie looked from me to Penny, then back to me. With a shrug and a slight tilt of her head, she cleared her throat again, stopped, then laughed. “Okay. I guess I do. Anyway.” She turned her full attention to me. “We was talking after you left last night, and we wanted you to know how proud we are you finally stood up to Ma and Pop and your annoying, overbearing brothers.”
“Those annoying, overbearing brothers are also your husbands and the fathers of your children.”
Penny flapped her hand in a careless wave. “Yeah, but they’re still idioti, and they were acting like morons.”
I shrugged. “Nothing new. They all have trouble believing I have a brain and can take care of myself.”
“Like Penny said.” Trixie shoved a huge mushroom in her mouth and talked around it. “Morons.”

#1 Regina’s Independence
I don’t get mad often, especially with my family, but I was tired, overworked, emotionally drained, and royally pissed off right now, so the anger bled through my usual calm.
I rose from my chair and threw my napkin down on the table like my mother had. “You know what? I’m done. I’m done with you all treating me like a child. I’m not one of your underlings, Pop, who needs to be kept on a short lease and told what to do every minute of the day because you don’t have enough trust to let them act on their own. And”—I glared at my brothers— “I’m not five years old and unable to defend myself against bullies and bad guys. You don’t have to hold my hand so I can cross the street and not get hit by a car.”
I grabbed my plate and walked to the kitchen.
“I’m done with you all thinking I can’t make a wise and appropriate decision with my life,” I added over my shoulder. I placed the dish in the sink and called out, “I’m done with the checking up on me, the second- guessing me, and the way you all think you have a right to manage my life.”
I yanked my coat off the hall tree and yelled, “I’m a thirty-two-year-old grown-ass woman who owns and manages her own business and her own life. I don’t need protectors, handlers, or any of you telling me what to do, who to see, or how to conduct myself. I’ve been on my own a long time, and I think I’ve done a great job with myself, even if you all don’t.”
I shrugged into my coat and wound my scarf around my neck. “If I want a man to spend the night or not, it’s none of your damn business. Deal with it.”
I may have screeched that last part.
I slammed the door behind me and sprinted down the stairs of the brownstone, my ungloved hand waving in the air for a passing cab.
As an exit line, I think it was a pretty good one. 

































































































19 comments:

  1. OMGOODNESS! What a wonderful review!!! I can't thank you enough for your kind worlds, and I'm so delighted you enjoyed Regina and Connor's story. Happy New Year to you and your followers and #blessyou for introducing CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS to your readers

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    1. You're so welcome, Peggy. I need to get reading to reading Hope's Dream and Dearly Beloved now. They are both on my kindle, but my TBR list is long and getting longer each month. Happy New Year to you too.

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  2. My family and I all appreciate you bringing to our attention the book description of another great book to read. Thanks so much!

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    1. You're welcome, James. If you've never read anything by Peggy Jaeger before, you need to get to reading her work. She's brilliant.

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  3. Replies
    1. You're welcome. I'll host Peggy Jaeger on my blog anytime.

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  4. Loved the Top 5 mini excerpts...especially #1. Great exit line!

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    1. I love the mini excerpts too, but the whole story is an absolute delight. Hope you get the chance to read it.

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  5. Happy Friday, thanks for sharing your awesome review!

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    1. Thank you, Victoria. This book was an absolute delight. Hope you get a chance to read it.

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    2. Victoria - hapy friday to you too!!!! I simply adore this review and this reviewer!!!

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  6. Were there any books that you read in 2018 that you would like to see a sequel too? Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

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  7. That's a great question. ANything by Lauren Layne is always sequel-worthy

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  8. This sounds great, thanks for sharing your review

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