Bookish Ramblings: Bookstore Romance Day 2022

Love is In the Air – 2022

It’s time to celebrate love, all shades of love. August 20, 20221, is officially Bookstore Romance Day. This is the fourth year of celebrating romance in fiction. According to the website: “Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m always up for grabbing a good romance book to read (okay, I’m always up for grabbing any good book to read). Contemporary romance, romantic suspense, romantic comedy, or historical romance, I’m always up for the HEA (happy ever after) or HFN (happy for now). Steamy romance or mild romance, it’s all good. If you’re not a romance reader, I hope my recommendations will help you become a Romancelandia convert.

No list is complete without my all-time favorite author, the incomparable, the Slayer of Words, the Queen…Beverly Jenkins! I’ve repeatedly recommended her books to you in the past and I sincerely hope you’ve taken my recommendations. Where do you start? I suggest beginning with her Blessings series (soon to be a television series [we hope]). This series, inspirational with hints of romance, begins with Bring On the Blessings, A Second Helping, Something Old, Something New, A Wish and a Prayer, Heart of Gold, For Your Love, Stepping to a New Day, Chasing Down a Dream, Second Time Sweeter, and On the Corner of Hope and Main. If you enjoy historical romance, then I encourage you to grab copies of Ms. B’s Indigo and Vivid, especially the 25th-anniversary editions. You definitely don’t want to miss out on her “Women Who Dare” series: Rebel, Wild Rain, and the soon-to-be-released, To Catch a Raven.

If you haven’t read anything by Lyssa Kay Adams, now is a good time to start. The Bromance series features men learning how to be better husbands or significant others by reading romance novels. This is one series you’ll want to read in order, so start with book one, The Bromance Book Club, then on to Undercover Bromance, followed by One Crazy Stupid Bromance, and Isn’t It Bromantic?. Make sure you add A Very Merry Bromance to your list for reading later this year.

Another favorite is Jasmine Guillory and her Wedding Date series. This series includes The Wedding Date, The Proposal (one of my favorites), The Wedding Party, Royal Holiday (another favorite because the main female character is named Vivian!), Party of Two, and While We Were Dating (a new favorite). New additions to Ms. Guillory’s list of works include By The Book, released earlier this year, and Drunk On Love scheduled to be released next month.

I can’t say enough good things about Ayesha at Last and Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin. These are fantastic stories that feature Muslims as the lead characters and have just as much drama and comedy as seen in other romance reads. Come on people, read diversely! Again, I’m not just saying that because I’m a Black Muslim woman from Appalachia or a Muslim Affrilachian, I’m saying that as a Book Diva!

Need more author suggestions, here’s a partial list for you of authors I’ve read and can strongly recommend: S.K. Ali, Sandra Brown, Alyssa Cole, Lori Foster, Linda Howard, Sarah Jio, Susanna Kearsley, Sandra Kitt, Alexa Martin, JJ Murray (only male on this list), Alisha Rai (I have read and can highly recommend the Modern Love series: Girl Gone Viral, The Right Swipe, and First Comes Like), Vanessa Riley, J.D. Robb & Nora Roberts, Farrah Rochon, Juno Rushdan, Sharon Sala, Meg Tilly, Sarah Title, Tia Williams, Lauren Willig (love the Pink Carnation series), and more.

Bookstore Romance Day is also providing a host of virtual events, please click here to learn more. Registration may no longer be available for some events, but you can always watch any missed events on YouTube.

Let’s celebrate romantic love in all its forms, as well as support our beloved romance authors and indie bookstores. Love is Love! I hope you’ll be able to spend some time at your favorite indie bookstore today and treat yourself to a romance book or two.

Bookstore Romance Day heart-shaped logo

I’m super excited and pleased to announce that there are two indie bookstores in West Virginia participating in Bookstore Romance Day this year. I’ll be heading to Booktenders in Barboursville, West Virginia to grab some books. Who knows, I might also buy a few from WordPlay in Wardensville, West Virginia as well.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Book Showcase: HOSTILE PURSUIT by Juno Rushdan



Hostile Pursuit

A Hard Core Justice Thriller Book 1

by Juno Rushdan

Genre: Romantic Thriller




When ruthless killers target them, even a safe house isn’t safe.

Only twenty-four hours remain until marshal Nick McKenna’s informant, Lori Carpenter, will testify against a powerful drug cartel. Nick has kept her safe for an entire year, but now all hell is breaking loose. With a team of cold-blooded assassins closing in, the by-the-book lawman decides to go rogue. He’ll risk his life for duty…and put it all on the line for his irresistible witness.




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Nick had kept Lori safe for three hundred and eighty-six days. What could possibly go wrong in the next twenty-seven hours?

They reached the women’s clothing store. As they walked inside, a chime dinged from a motion-activated PIR sensor he spotted.

An employee behind the register, wearing a blazer and sporting a curly bob, made eye contact and gave a perky smile. One female customer perusing a row of blouses didn’t glance their way.

“Hello,” the young sales associate said, her warm voice rich with enthusiasm. “Let me know if you need help finding anything.”

“Thank you,” Lori said.

“You’ve got twenty minutes.” Nick looked at his watch while Ted swept the rest of the store. “We’re in and out, okay?”

Lori went to a rack of suits. “You don’t give a gal much time.”

“One hour away from the property,” he said, reminding her of the US Marshal Service rules that kept witnesses alive. “Not a minute more.”

Nick’s attention flickered to the other customer.

The woman was in her early forties, petite, olive complexion, coal-black hair pulled in a tight bun. No jewelry, wore slacks and a blousy top and carried a leather purse. She reached up, taking a shirt from the upper rack, and the frilly bell sleeve of her blouse dropped an inch, revealing a tattoo of a black rose on the back of her hand. The ink fit her. Beautiful. Elegant. Dark.

Reflexively, Nick pressed his arm against the Glock 22 in his shoulder rig.

“This is a big deal.” Lori checked the size on a navy suit. “Forgive me for not wanting to rush.” 

Tomorrow she was testifying in federal court against her in-laws’ financial firm for laundering millions. He could tell she was doing her best to hold it together and not let nerves derail her. If he could give her more time, he would.

The low chime at the front rang. Another woman entered the store. Bottled-bleach-blonde. Tall and thin. Jeans and a buttoned shirt. Sneakers that squelched lightly against the tile floor.

“I’m sorry. Eighteen minutes,” Nick said, telegraphing with his tone this was nonnegotiable.

Lori picked a navy two-piece from the rack. “This should work. I better go try it on. Tick-tock.”

Nick looked to Ted, where his partner stood at the entrance of the dressing rooms. Ted nodded, signaling the stalls were empty and he’d make sure no one followed Lori inside.

Blondie headed straight to some dresses hanging in the rear of the store, grabbed one almost mindlessly, or perhaps she’d been in before and knew what she was looking for, flicked a glance at a tag and made a beeline for the dressing rooms.

Ted lifted a palm, not letting the blonde in after Lori. The woman huffed and protested, raising a loud stink, but his partner held firm.

Show her your badge, Ted, and be done with it. Flashing the Eagle Top five-pointed star had a way of shutting down any complaints lickety-split.

“Who do you think you are?” Blondie asked with a fist on her hip.

“A US Deputy Marshal, ma’am,” Ted said. “Sorry for the inconvenience and the wait.”

“Listen, jerk. I need to get in there now.”

Ted laughed in his self-deprecating way. “Sorry. Not going to happen.”

The sales associate went over to the scene unfolding. “Hi,” she said brightly, her sunny disposition almost disarming. “Is there a problem?”

Nick maintained his position, monitoring the rest of the shop and the entrance.

Black Rose circled silent as a fox around to an ornate display of scarves and ran her fingers across the silk. Not once since they’d entered had she acknowledged their presence in the slightest. Until now.

Her gaze lifted, meeting his, her face an expressionless mask, but her sharp eyes were those of a merciless predator.

Prior experience as an army ranger in Afghanistan before becoming a marshal had taught him the hard way never to underestimate a woman with a slight build, or even a child for that matter, and the deep scar under his chin was a testament.

For a chilling instant they stared at one another, sizing the other up. Not from a physical perspective. It was an assessment of will. And what Nick saw in her was fathomless.

Blondie threw the dress at Ted, dividing Nick’s attention, and stormed out of the store.

The bell chimed. Black Rose’s steely eyes narrowed before she turned and strode unhurriedly toward the door—as if she had all the time in the world.

Then he saw it. Her low-heeled boots that didn’t make a sound.

His neck prickled the way it did when he was on a hunt for big game with his siblings. Nick followed. He had no reason to detain or question her, but something about that woman was wrong. From the tattoo, those rubber-soled shoes, to how she’d looked at him. As if she’d wanted to slice through him like a hot knife through butter.

None of it was evidence of anything and not cause for more than suspicion, but training and years of experience had taught him not to dismiss either.

The woman strolled away, lengthening the distance between them with each store she passed. One, two, three. But the tightening in his gut didn’t ease.

Black Rose glimpsed back at him over her shoulder, caught his fixed stare and stopped in her tracks. Pivoting, she turned and faced him, leveling her icy gaze his way. The look she sent him was full of loathing and in a blink it changed. Her lips hitched in an ominous half grin and she winked. Almost daring him to pursue.

Old ranger instincts urged him to take up the chase, confirm what his gut screamed about the woman, shake something that made sense out of her, but his training overruled recklessness.

He looked back in the quiet clothing store, checking on things.

Ted no longer stood stationed at the entrance of the dressing rooms.

Nick touched his Bluetooth earpiece. “Ted? What’s your position? Do you have eyes on Hummingbird?” he asked, using the codename for Lori.

Deafening silence.

Nick’s pulse spiked, but he remained calm—never one to succumb to panic. He stepped past displays and racks, his gaze scanning, his mind assessing.

No sign of Ted. Or the sales associate.

Drawing his gun, Nick hustled toward the dressing rooms.

Anticipation coiled in his chest, adrenaline roaring through him. The weight of his backup piece strapped to his ankle was a small comfort. Nick’s fingers tightened on his Glock. He reached the threshold, scanned left, then right.

Ted lay on the floor beyond the entrance in a corner. Blood soaked his white hair at the base of his skull.

Son of a— Ted was down.

There was no time to check if his partner was unconscious or dead. A commotion deeper in the dressing room drew him forward. Two people struggled inside the second stall.

The horror in Lori’s terrified whimper jolted his heart.


Excerpt from Hostile Pursuit by June Rushdan. Copyright © 2020 by Juno Rushdan. Published by Harlequin. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.






Juno is a veteran Air Force Intelligence Officer who writes romantic thrillers with sizzle, pulse-pounding suspense, and plenty of action. Her stories are about strong heroes and gutsy heroines fighting for their lives as well as their happily-ever-after. Expect an intense emotional journey and a thrill ride to keep you turning the pages.

A native New Yorker, she currently lives in the Washington, DC area with her patient husband, two vivacious kids, and a spoiled rescue dog. Juno loves hanging out with readers and anyone friendly over a great glass of wine.

The Final Hour series features a covert, off-the-books unit sanctioned to operate beyond the black and white constraints of other intelligence agencies. They work in the shadows safeguarding national security. When a horrifying conspiracy hits too close to home, they’re the last line of defense. They’ll do anything to keep their country safe and sacrifice everything for the ones they love.


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2019 Book 251: NOTHING TO FEAR by Juno Rushdan

Nothing To Fear Final Hour #2 by Juno Rushdan 
ISBN: 9781492661573 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492661580 (ebook)
ASIN: B07NRSHHWF (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 27, 2019 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca


The clock is ticking

Fearsome Gray Box operative Gideon Stone is devoted to his work and his team. He’s never given reason to doubt his loyalty…until he’s tasked with investigating Willow Harper, a beguiling cryptologist suspected of selling deadly bio-agents on the black market.

He knows she’s innocent. He knows she’s being framed. And he knows that without him, Willow will be dead before sunrise.

Thrust into the crossfire of an insidious international conspiracy, Gideon will do anything to keep Willow safe…even if that means waging war against his own. With time running out, an unlikely bond pushes limits―and forges loyalties. Every move they make counts. And the real traitor is always watching…




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We were introduced to the Black Ops group, Gray Box in book one of the Final Hour series, Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan. This group is comprised of super intelligent, highly skilled, and well trained analysts and operatives. Willow Harper became somewhat suspicious in the last Gray Box mission when she took a break and missed tagging the bad guy at a crucial moment. It didn’t seem to matter to some people that she had been working for over 20 hours, hadn’t had any sleep, and had only taken a mandated 15 minute break, it was still suspicious. Adding insult to injury, when the suspect was apprehended and brought into custody, Willow’s pin code was used in an effort to murder the suspect. Now a million dollars has been found in an off-shore account in her name and it doesn’t seem to matter that she was almost killed in a recent car accident. A car accident caused by tampering. Fortunately, one of the Gray Box operatives, Gideon “Reaper” Stone, knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Willow is innocent and is willing to do whatever it takes to protect her. One key question is will it be enough considering there is a traitor hidden deep at Gray Box? An even bigger question is can he trust his emotions with Willow in this dangerous situation?

Nothing to Fear is the second book in the Final Hour series by Juno Rushdan. This is a fast-paced and engaging thriller that incorporates international intrigue, kidnapping, espionage, murder, romance, and more. I enjoyed the main characters primarily because Willow isn’t your average female lead character. Yes, she’s smart, intelligent, and pretty, but she’s also on the spectrum and used to a highly regimented life. I did have difficulties accepting how well she adjusted to having this regimented life disrupted given the fact she talked (and thought) about needing to adhere to a schedule, etc. It seemed as if she was on the spectrum for a few pages and then all of sudden she wasn’t, but that’s just my perspective. Gideon initially comes across as the super-strong alpha male, and although he is definitely an alpha-male, he also has his fair share of issues he’s dealing with in terms of his first marriage and the death of his first wife. There’s a lot of action crammed into Nothing to Fear and if you’ve read Every Last Breath, I strongly encourage you to grab a copy to read as soon as it releases (even with the issues I had with Willow being on-and-off the autism spectrum). For those of you that haven’t read Every Last Breath, if you enjoy reading romantic-suspense, then I encourage you to grab a copy and read that first so you’ll understand the story arc, then get yourself a copy of Nothing to Fear. Yes, I had some issues with some facets of this story, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read. How enjoyable? I had a moderately-severe migraine and the story kept me turning the pages! I look forward to reading the next installment in this series.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”